Clarification of consumer guarantees is essential, but making information accessible must be a focus

Clarification of consumer guarantees is essential according to Consumer Action Law Centre (Consumer Action), but making information accessible must be a focus in newly proposed guidance about ‘unsafe’ goods and what constitutes reasonable durability of goods.

Consumer Action’s comment on the draft Guidance on ‘reasonable durability’ and Guidance on ‘unsafe’ documents circulated by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (the ACCC) for Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) includes calls to:

  • More appropriately target the guidance to those that need it, including separate guidance for consumers and businesses,
  • Utilise clear and consistent language across all examples that highlight each point, and
  • Undertake consumer testing of the guidance to ensure that it is fit for its intended purpose.

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) covers all goods and services sold in Australia, and it is complex even for those within the legal profession.  Many people struggle to understand their rights and responsibilities – both as consumers and suppliers in the market – because the ACL is not written in an accessible format for the majority of the population.

When consumers are unable to understand what the law says about their rights when they purchase goods, they are unable to self-advocate.

Because the ACL can be so difficult to understand, many people will rely on guidance about faulty or unsafe goods.  Clear and consistent information is vital for consumers and businesses alike.

However, consumers and businesses turn to these guarantees for very different reasons: Consumers want to know what their rights are when things go pear-shaped, while businesses need to know how to comply with the law.  It may not be feasible to create a ‘catch-all’ guidance that covers everything both audiences need to know.

Consumer Action’s submission also comments on:

  • Reformatting the consumer-targeted guidance to reduce length and draw attention to crucial sections,
  • Clarifying the impacts of and timeframes for ‘unsafe’ goods and ‘reasonable durability’, and
  • Including a brief of additional resources at the end of the guidance.

You can read the full submission here

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