On Wednesdays (other than wearing pink) we’ll bring you a legal update so you can up your legal knowledge game.
The Australian Consumer Laws (‘ACL’) are a set of national laws that are designed to protect consumers. The ACL is contained in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). Under the ACL, there are a number of important consumer guarantees which are owed to you as an individual consumer and conversely owed to your individual (and small business) customers if you’re a business owner. These guarantees include good/products being of ‘acceptable quality’ or services being provided with ‘due care and skill’. Importantly, a business’ terms and conditions or contracts can’t cut across these guarantees.
Booktopia found this out the hard way in recent times when they were hit with an eye-watering $6M fine from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’) for breaching the ACL. Booktopia’s Terms of Business stated that consumers had to notify Booktopia of any damaged or incorrect products within 2 days from delivery in order to be eligible for a refund. Any claims made after the 2 days would not be remedied by Booktopia according to its employees who made these direct representations to consumers. Those terms were found to be false and misleading representations regarding customers rights and guarantees under the ACL.
As a consumer, know that you have rights under the ACL including certain guarantees that you automatically receive for goods and services that you purchase. As a business, your terms and conditions govern the business relationship you have with your customers but there are certain rights under the ACL including consumer guarantees which are over-arching. If your terms and conditions cut across these consumer guarantees, you expose your business to action from government authorities like the ACCC for false and misleading conduct.