(Australian Associated Press)
Big businesses using warranties to swindle consumers have been put on notice by the Australian competition watchdog.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims says the watchdog will more likely take action against large businesses than small businesses in 2016.
He says it’s because big companies set the benchmark for behaviour of most companies and their misconduct is more likely to harm a much broader group of consumers.
“Addressing poor behaviour at these levels is important to send clear messages to the market,” he said in a speech laying out the ACCC’s priorities for the year on Tuesday.
He said cracking down on businesses making representations about “express” or “extended” warranties would be a top priority.
Mr Sims said consumers had the legal right to have defective, non-durable or unfit products repaired, replaced or refunded.
“These rights apply automatically and they apply for a reasonable time depending on the nature of the goods or services,” he said.
“This means the law may protect you beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period, without the purchase of an extended warranty.”
He said consumers also had the same basic right to a remedy if they buy defective or non-durable vehicles, regardless of any manufacturer or supplier warranties.
“Blanket refusals to consider warranty claims after the expiry of a manufacturers warranty or solely through the strict conditions of those warranties will be of concern to us,” Mr Sims said.
Another priority for the ACCC in 2016 would be carrying out market studies in a range of different sectors and advocating increased competition.
Mr Sims said the regulation of monopoly infrastructure and competition and consumer issues in the agriculture sector would be studied.
WHAT THE ACCC WANTS TO DO IN 2016:
* Take more enforcement actions against bigger companies
* Crack down on big business over warranties
* Urge vehicle makers and sellers to invest in after-sales care
* Enforce the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct
* Conduct studies into fostering more competition
* Crack down on cartel activity
* Protect indigenous consumers
* Protect older consumers and new arrivals in Australia
* Stop more people sending money to scammers overseas