Misleading consumers costs Harvey Norman $52,000

A Harvey Norman franchisee has been fined AUD$52,000 for making false or misleading representations about consumer guarantee rights.

Bunavit Pty Ltd, which operates the Harvey Norman Superstore Bundall in Queensland, is the latest of ten Harvey Norman franchisees around the country to be penalised by the Federal Court for breaching consumer protection laws.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) brought the action against Bunavit for ten false or misleading statements made by store employees to customers about their statutory rights.

One salesperson told a customer whose new computer was malfunctioning, “There’s nothing we can do.” Another customer who had complained about receiving a faulty laptop was informed, “We can’t help you.”

A store employee told her to contact the laptop manufacturer for help instead and that retailer would not pay for a refund or a replacement. The same employee later advised her that they would pay half of the repair costs if she sent it to a third party computer shop.

ACCC Acting Chair Dr Michael Shaper said, “Products sold in Australia come with a consumer guarantee under the Australian Consumer Law that they will be of acceptable quality. Faulty products must be repaired, replaced or a refund must be provided by the retailer.”

Consumer guarantees cannot be limited by the manufacturer’s warranty and any replacement or repair must be provided at no cost to the consumer.

“Business are expected to take appropriate and effective steps to ensure that their staff understand the rights of consumers and the obligations of businesses under the consumer guarantees provided by the Australian Consumer Law,” Dr Shaper said.

The total amount of penalties levied against Harvey Norman franchisees for false and misleading representations about consumer rights to $286,000.

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Sources: ACCC, TimeBase, Sydney Morning Herald