Vox pop: Are you confident you understand Australian Consumer Law?

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This article appeared in the June 2018 issue of CRN magazine.

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Vox pop: Are you confident you understand Australian Consumer Law?

Patrick Managreve, COO, Mwave

A key channel issue is the multitude of warranty policies which channel partners higher up the chain enforce, and which resellers and retailers have had no choice but to follow, and, in turn, define their own policies.

Without proper legal counsel, some businesses are self-teaching, usually as a result of a customer threat to pursue action with Fair Trading or the ACCC. Others remain unaware of consumer rights or theirs as a retailer. Some simply don’t budge from their own internal policies that breach Australian consumer law, but many consumers are too time-poor to pursue further action unless the item is of significant value or critical to their business.

Understanding consumer law is important if you are to operate a retail business regardless of what industry you operate in – not only to protect against unnecessary litigation costs, but more importantly, to avoid the negative impact to your brand and consumer perception.

Jaan Turon, design and product director, Venom Computers

We welcome recent changes to Australian Consumer Law. The ACL requirements are built around the notion of what a reasonable amount of time a product should last for. What is a reasonable amount of time that a PC or notebook should last?

As an Australian PC manufacturer, we think the changes are great, because we were dissatisfied with the standard of many other PCs that were being sold to consumers and businesses. We think it’s going to make it harder for multinationals to treat Australia just as another territory to sell inferior products.

Our PCs are designed with principles that go beyond the statutory minimum requirements. We incorporate things such as fanless designs into our notebooks, not only because it makes them silent but because dust accumulation and fan bearing degradation makes itself apparent after only three-to-five years of use.

Gabriel Silvestri, senior account manager and product specialist, Leader Computers

One issue is that the law uses language that most people can’t understand. Whether you’re a consumer or a small business owner, the ordinary person has little chance of understanding some of the issues without a lawyer.

There’s too much grey area that allows some vendors to bypass consumer law in some instances. I remember I got burned when I purchased a car with a known issue, and there was nothing I could do. Another example of that grey area has been when customers have used their systems for cryptocurrency mining, with some video cards failing after just three months. 

In our sector, some vendors are definitely better than others when it comes to doing right by consumers, and I try to guide our customers to those brands.  
As a distributor, we educate our resellers about what’s required under consumer law as much as we can.

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