Home opinion-and-analysis ShawThing You have done it again, and again, Harvey

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The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

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Harvey Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey Harvey Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey

Yet another Harvey Norman retail store – Camavit Pty Ltd in Campbelltown NSW – has had to pay $32,000 to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for blatant breaches of Australian Consumer Law. Similar cases for six more Harvey Norman retail franchises are still before the courts and a similar outcome is expected.

iTWire revealed on 10 December 2013 that four Harvey Norman stores had been fined a total of $116,000 for breaches to the Australian Consumer Laws. It is worth reading this article as it points out apparently little known consumer warranty rights that came into force from 1 January 2011.

This comes on top of iTWire reporting that Apple had also breached consumer law in Australia. It will be forced to provide a two-year warranty as standard and to repair any items purchased from 1 January 2011 at no cost – we presume this includes refunding those who have had to pay for the repairs since then. We also understand that previously declared ‘non-warranty’ issues - e.g. declaring broken front glass or a battery as a ‘consumable’ - might be also be reconsidered and eligble for a refund.

Despite substantial publicity about the consumer laws and useless so called extended warranties retailers have quickly fallen back to bad habits with several Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, and Good Guys stores still ‘enforcing’ the sale of extended warranties as a condition of purchase. Applecare warranty programs could also fall into the same category - ACCC will need to determine that.

Again, iTWire stresses that extended warranties are useless, worthless and only further circumvent Australian Consumer law – do not buy them.

According to Caitlin Fitzsimmons from BRW, “Australian retailers should prepare for regulators to enforce new consumer protection laws after the competition watchdog slammed Apple for misleading consumers about warranties.”

Opinion

I love the ACCC. Established in 1995 and long hampered by lack of resources and inadequate regulation it is turning the tide and getting significant wins on the board. Rod Simms, chair since August 2011, has provided effective leadership.

More importantly, it listens to consumers and is willing to show no fear or favour in going after the big offenders – it has to leave smaller offenders to the local state based departments of consumer affairs.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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