Sale franchisee part of Harvey Norman court hearing

THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will take the franchisees off 11 Harvey Norman stores, including Sale, to the Federal Court for allegedly misrepresenting consumer rights.

The ACCC alleged the franchisees, including Sale store franchisee Salecomp Pty Ltd, engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by making false or misleading representations to consumers about their rights under the consumer guarantee provisions of the Australian Consumer Law.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the Australian Consumer Law provided consumers with rights to certain remedies from retailers and manufacturers when goods fail to comply with the consumer guarantee provisions, including that goods are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold.

“These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified,” he said.

“For example, if an item purchased breaks down within a short time of being puchased, the consumer may be entitled to a refund or a replacement item.

“The ACCC alleged the franchisees misled consumers about these rights by making representations including that:

– the franchisee had no obligation to provide remedies for damaged goods unless notified within a specific period of time such as 24 hours or 14 days

– the franchisee had no obligation to provide remedies for goods still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty

– the franchisee had no obligation to provide refunds or replacements for particular items such as large appliances or items priced below a certain amount, and

– consumers must pay a fee for the repair and return of faulty products.

The court orders the ACCC is seeking include penalties, declarations, injunctions and costs.

The matter is set down for a directions hearing on December 19 at the Federal Court in Sydney.