Consumer Guarantees – What does a supplier guarantee?

by Matthew Elvin

Last week I explained what the Consumer Guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law (“the ACL”) are and when they apply. This week I detail the guarantees that a supplier must provide a consumer under the ACL.

Firstly, a supplier guarantees a number of things regarding the title and security over the goods. A supplier guarantees it has the right to sell the goods, or to dispose of them, at the time the consumer acquires them. The exception is where it is not intended that the consumer will become the owner of the goods (such as leased goods). Subject to any disclosed security over the goods, a supplier also guarantees that goods supplied to a consumer are free from any security, and that the consumer will acquire the right to “undisturbed possession” of goods. quality guarantee

Secondly, a supplier guarantees that goods are reasonably fit for the purposes that the supplier represents they are fit for, or for the purposes that the consumer makes known to the supplier that they intend to use the goods for. Note, however, this guarantee does not apply where the consumer did not rely on the supplier’s representation, or in circumstances where it was not reasonable for the consumer to rely on the supplier’s representation.

A supplier also guarantees that goods will be of “acceptable quality” to the reasonable informed consumer. The goods must be fit for the purposes for which such goods are ordinarily supplied, acceptable in appearance and finish, free from defects, safe and durable.

The “acceptable quality” guarantee will not apply where the reasons the goods are not of acceptable quality are drawn to the consumer’s attention, or where the reasons are disclosed in a written notice displayed with the goods, or where the reasons would have been disclosed on a reasonable examination (and the consumer examined the goods). The guarantee will also not apply where the consumer causes the goods to become of unacceptable quality, fails to take reasonable steps to prevent them becoming of unacceptable quality, or damages them by abnormal use.

Where goods are supplied to a consumer by description, they must correspond to that description (except for goods sold privately or by auction). Where goods are supplied by reference to a sample or demonstration, the goods must correspond with that sample. Furthermore, the supplier must allow the consumer a reasonable opportunity to compare the goods to the sample, and the goods must be free from any defect that would not be apparent on reasonable examination.

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