Consumer Guarantees

I spent all this money to get my car repaired/serviced and it is no better now than when I first took it in. What can I do?

The mechanic has your vehicle off the road for a week. He gives you a call and says its ready to be collected – job done. You pay your money, drive it away and within a week you notice that your car is still not right. You go back to the mechanic (as you would) and complain. The mechanic books it back in and does whatever a mechanic does and tells you after another 24 hours that he has identified the problem – it’s all fixed. You get it back and again, after a few days you realise it is not fixed. You contact the mechanic again and now you get excuses.

What can I do? What are my legal rights?

What does the warranty say? Read the paperwork, or, if you cannot find anything on the paperwork, many businesses are putting their warranty conditions on their website. If you can’t find anything, all is not lost. Every business in Australia is bound by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), otherwise known as Consumer Guarantees. As long as the value is not over $40,000 this legislation is designed to protect you.

The legislation provides that: all services must be carried out with due care and skill; that the service provided will be suitable for your needs as specified by the supplier; that a guarantee for the service is made known to you; and that the service will be completed in a reasonable time. The mechanic CANNOT opt out of these obligations – that is, he cannot say they don’t apply to him.

The ACL provides for enforcement and remedies when the mechanic (or any supplier of goods that you have paid for) has been negligent in providing their services. If the service can be remedied, you can request repair, replacement or refund. However, if the mechanic fails to provide the remedy in a reasonable time, you (as the consumer) may ask that he remedy the failure and recover the costs from the mechanic. You may then seek to recover damages for any substantial loss (eg. You had to hire a replacement motor vehicle) because of the failure of the mechanic to comply with the guarantee.

To have the remedy enforced, you will need to take legal action.

If you need assistance in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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