Got a question? Ask Lawmail

Send your questions to Lawmail

Can't find the info you are looking for?Got a problem you can’t solve?

If you're under 25, or an adult asking on behalf of a person under 18, you can send your questions to Lawmail and we will email an answer to you in under 10 days. Urgent matters are dealt with more quickly.

Go to Lawmail. It’s free and confidential.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Your consumer rights

                  ===== Insert text regarding state=ACT here. ======                 

1    Summary of Australian Consumer Law Guarantees

2    Exceptions to guarantees


1    Summary of Australian Consumer Law Guarantees

Under the Australian Consumer Law, when you buy products and services they come with automatic guarantees that they will work and do what you asked for.  If you buy something and the Supplier fails to deliver any of the following guarantees, you may be entitled to a replacement, repair, refund or other remedy. Suppliers cannot “contract out” of these consumer guarantees.  This means that they can’t say in the fine print that they do not apply to your purchase.

Check out this handy video which explains consumer guarantees:

1    You are entitled to have use of the goods unaffected by anyone else’s legal rights to the goods. This means the goods sold to you must be legally free of any other possible owner.
For example, it would be a breach of this right if you were sold stolen goods that the original owner could still claim.

2    You are entitled to goods that are of an acceptable quality. A good will be of an acceptable quality if it:
(a)    can be used in all the ways in which that type of good is usually used.
(b)    is safe and has no defects.
(c)    is durable (long-lasting).
(d)    is acceptable in appearance and finish.

The standard of whether a good is of acceptable quality will change depending on what the good is.

For example, a $5 plastic chair will not be judged by the same standard as a $200 luxury wooden chair.

However, this guarantee will not apply if the Supplier drew your attention to any defects before you agreed to purchase the goods or if you damage the goods by abnormal use.

3    If the supplier tells you or suggests to you that the goods can be used for a certain purpose, they guarantee that you can use the goods for that purpose.

4    If you tell a supplier that you are purchasing the goods to be able to use the goods for a certain purpose and the goods are not able to be used for that purpose, you have consumer rights to protect you.

For example, you tell a sales person that you need skis which are suitable for powder skiing and they recommend you a pair of skis. You then find out that those skis are only suitable for cross-country skiing and are useless on powder. You will have options available such as a replacement or refund.

5    Similarly, if you buy a service off someone and you tell them that you are buying that service for a particular reason, they guarantee that the service will reasonably serve the purpose you have told them.

For example, if you hire cleaners from a cleaning company to get rid of all of the dust in your house because of your allergies, you tell them this and they agree, the cleaners guarantee that their cleaning will remove all dust (within reason).

6    If you buy goods by reference to a sample or a demonstration model of that good, the quality and condition of the goods must match the sample or demonstration model.

For example, you go to buy a car and the sales person shows you a certain model of a car and explains all of the features of that model. You decide to order that particular model. You are entitled to have the car that you receive have all of the same features as the demonstration model that the sales person showed you.

7    If someone provides a service to you, they must do so with care and skill.  The Standard of care and skill that is required will depend on the situation.

For example, if you hire a plumber to fix your plumbing and they flood your house, they may not be exercising care and skill and you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

2    Exceptions to guarantees

These Consumer guarantees do not apply if you:

  • got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase anymore or had no use for it.  Some shops may still offer you an exchange or refund in these circumstances but they are not legally obliged to do so.
  • misused the product in a way that cause the problem.
  • knew of or were made aware of any defects before you agreed to buy the product.
  • buy goods or services from a private seller (ie someone who doesn’t usually sell things).  For example, if you buy a second-hand billy cart off someone on gumtree or eBay (whether by auction or “Buy it Now” function) most of the Consumer guarantees would not apply.

For more information on how to make a claim if you think a Supplier of goods or services that you have purchased has breached any of these guarantees go to:

NCYLC would like to express thanks to the law clerks and volunteers who assisted with the preparation of this material:  Shareen Dhillon, James McGrath, Trishala Shah, Isabelle Youssef.

This page was last updated in January 2017.