Who provides a consumer guarantee and when?
Whether it is the manufacturer, importer, retailer or supplier who provides a consumer guarantee and when they must do so depends upon the particular guarantee. In many instances a consumer will be able to choose who they want to seek a remedy from, and may make this choice based on available remedies and convenience.
A consumer may be able to claim a remedy from a manufacturer, importer, retailer or supplier, depending on the circumstances.
A consumer can seek to claim a remedy in relation to goods directly from the manufacturer or importer if the goods do not meet one or more of the following consumer guarantees:
- the goods are of acceptable quality
- the goods match the description
- any extra promises made about such things like performance, condition and quality
- repairs and spare parts - the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that spare parts and repair facilities (a place that can fix the consumer's goods) are available for a reasonable time after purchase unless the consumer was told otherwise. How long is 'reasonable' will depend on the type of product.
However a consumer cannot rely on the consumer guarantees to demand that a manufacturer or importer provide them with a repair, replacement or refund. They are only entitled to recover costs, which include an amount for reduction in the product's value and in some cases compensation for damages or loss.
A consumer can claim a remedy from a retailer if the product purchased fails to meet any one or more of the consumer guarantees, with the exception of availability of spare parts and repair facilities. The remedies that can be sought from a retailer are more extensive, and include repair, replacement or refund.
In relation to services, a consumer can claim a remedy from a supplier if the services fail to meet any of the guarantees for services. Remedies can include cancelling the service and compensation for damages or loss.
The guarantees apply automatically without being offered or asked for and operate in addition to any other guarantees or warranties the supplier may provide. Most importantly, they cannot be excluded or waived.
There are some minor exceptions to the position outlined above:
- some guarantees do not apply if supply occurs by way of an auction
- the guarantees relating to title and undisclosed securities apply only to the sale of goods and not to other forms of supply.
However, these exceptions are unlikely to be relevant to most businesses most of the time. For this reason, suppliers and manufacturers are advised to limit their risk by assuming that the guarantees will always apply to them whenever they supply goods or services to consumers, or manufacture goods for them.