The ACCC has launched proceedings against Hewlett-Packard
Australia Pty Ltd for contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law
(ACL) for allegedly misrepresenting consumer
guarantees and warranties. This latest legal action is a timely
reminder to retailers and manufacturers to ensure that they are
meeting their obligations under the ACL to explain consumer
guarantees and warranties properly.
The ACCC's current major priorities include the new consumer
product rights under the ACL and there is a particular current
focus on consumer guarantee rights for electronics and other
popular consumer goods. Since the ACL began in 2011, there has been
a strong push by the ACCC to educate consumers and business about
their rights under the ACL; earlier this year, it launched its
national campaign "If it's not right, use your rights.
Repair, replace, refund".
Businesses need to be vigilant and review their product warranty
literature because it is likely that any consumer complaints about
allegedly misleading or deceptive conduct by retailers or
manufacturers will be taken seriously by the ACCC and
According to the ACCC, Hewlett-Packard made false or misleading
representations in two different areas:
to consumers about their statutory warranty and consumer
guarantee rights; and
to retailers and resellers, that Hewlett-Packard was not liable
to indemnify them if the reseller provided consumers with a refund
or replacement without Hewlett-Packard's prior
Under the ACL, suppliers and manufacturers are liable for
mandatory statutory consumer guarantees which are separate to and
independent of the manufacturer's own express warranty.
The suggestion in the Hewlett-Packard case is that consumers
were told that their remedies for a faulty HP product were limited
to the HP express warranty (in terms of time period and obligation
to have the product repaired, even if it had a major failure).
However statutory consumer guarantees, such as that products are of
acceptable quality, are not affected by any extra warranty that a
business chooses to offer. It is critically important that
businesses do not mislead consumers about their rights.
If a business does choose to provide additional voluntary
warranties about their goods, there are also new specific
requirements for packaging on the goods to make clear these
consumer rights exist.
In the Hewlett-Packard case, the ACCC is seeking a wide range of
remedies, including civil pecuniary penalties, adverse publicity
orders, and non-party redress for consumers affected by
Given the ACCC's focus on consumer law issues, and without
commenting on the likely outcome of this case, the Hewlett-Packard
case is a timely reminder for all retailers and manufacturers to
check compliance with their obligations under the Australian
The Clayton Utz Competition and Consumer Team has helped many
clients with these issues and if you would like to discuss your
business's compliance, please call one of us on the details
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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The Sportscraft refunds and returns policy limitations went beyond consumer's rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
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