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Australian Consumer Law update: 1 July 2011 deadline for mandatory consumer notices looming

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As outlined in earlier editions of MST News, the new Australian Consumer Law (ACL) has represented a significant change to consumer rights, creating – for the first time – a national system of regulation across Australia.

Those aspects of the ACL that did not come into effect in April and July 2010 took effect from 1 January 2011. There are provisions requiring businesses to update notices to consumers that are now required to take a particular form.

One such prescribed notice relates to the repair of consumer goods.

Consumers seeking to repair consumer goods which are capable of retaining user-generated data must be notified that the repair may result in the loss of data. Examples of such user generated data may include:

  • Files stored on a computer hard drive
  • Telephone numbers stored on a mobile telephone
  • Songs stored on a portable media player
  • Games saved on a games console
  • Files stored on a USB memory stick

Notice must also be given to a consumer if, in relation to repairing a consumer’s defective goods, it is the repairer’s practice to either provide or use refurbished goods in the repair.

From 1 July 2011, repairers will be required to give customers a notice in a prescribed form using the below prescribed language before accepting goods for repair or refurbishment.

The notice must include the words:

“Goods presented for repair may be replaced by refurbished goods of the same type rather than being repaired. Refurbished parts may be used to repair the goods.”

This wording may not be altered under any circumstances.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently reported that it has secured more than $3.6 million in penalties since the first tranche of the new consumer laws took effect in April 2010.

These penalties have applied in addition to director disqualification orders, infringement notices and public warning notices. Businesses are accordingly advised not to be complacent about their obligations under the ACL.

Businesses requiring guidance as to the drafting of consumer notices, or advice as to their obligations under the ACL more generally, are encouraged to contact the Corporate Advisory team at MST.

Author: Katie Sweatman

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