Resolve a problem

The repair, replace, refund problem solver helps you understand your consumer rights and the steps you can take to resolve a problem.

You have the right to a repair, replacement or refund if your goods are faulty, unsafe, do not work or appear as they should. You have the right to a repair, compensation or refund, if the services you received are not right. Which remedy, and who gets to pick, depends on the problem.

You still have these rights, even if the goods or services come with a warranty against defects, often called a voluntary, manufacturers or extended warranty.

This guide provides key information about when you can use your rights.

Note: This information is for general guidance only and should not be relied on as legal advice.

Did you buy the goods or services from a business on or after 1 January 2011?

These rights don't apply to you

In this case your rights are covered by laws for goods and services bought before 1 January 2011.

Did you buy the goods/services from a traditional auction, where the auctioneer acted as the agent for the owner?

Did you buy the goods or services from a private seller, such as a garage sale or fete?

These rights don't apply to you

You only generally have rights to repair, replace or refund when you buy goods or services from a business.

Did you buy goods or services?

Did you buy the goods to be resold and/or transformed to be sold?

Transformed means to convert or change goods through:

  • a process of production or manufacture
  • repairing or treating other goods.

These rights don’t apply to you

For further information about your rights you may wish to talk to your legal advisor.

Did the goods cost less than $40,000 (incl. GST)?

Are the goods of a type usually bought for domestic, household or personal use?

Are the goods a commercial road vehicle or trailer used mainly to transport goods?

Are the goods of acceptable quality?

  • Are they safe, lasting and have no faults?
  • Do they look acceptable?
  • Do they work as they would normally be expected to?

Example:

You bought a TV six months ago and now it won't turn on. A reasonable consumer would expect the TV to still work after six months, so this is the time to use your rights.

Exception

If you caused the problem with the TV by misusing it or failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the problem, you do not have the right to repair, replace or refund.

Are the goods fit for any purpose you discussed with the salesperson before making the sale?

Example:

You went to a furniture store to purchase a bookcase capable of holding heavy appliances. You explained to the sales assistant that each shelf needs to hold at least 30kg. The sales assistant recommends a particular model.

You find the bookcase breaks after a few months because each shelf can only hold 10kg. This bookshelf is not fit for the specified purpose and you can go back to the business and use your rights.

Do the goods match the description?

Any description of the goods must be accurate, including verbal statements made by the sales representative and information on packaging or labels.

Example:

You bought a new set of blue towels online using the colour chart available on the website. When the towels arrive, you find that they are red. The towels don’t match the description so you should contact the seller and use your rights.

Do the goods match any sample or demonstration model?

Example:

You did a test drive of a new car. You decide to buy a car which is the same one as the demonstration model. When the new car is delivered, you find that the new car has a lesser engine capacity than the demonstration model. The car doesn’t match the demonstration model shown, so you should go back to the seller and use your rights.

Is the seller honouring any extra promises they made about the goods?

Example:

You bought a deskchair and were told by the sales assistant that it should hold up to 100kg. If the deskchair does not hold 100kg and breaks, the business must honour this promise as well as all other rights to repair, replace or refund.

Extra promises a business (supplier or manufacturer) may make about such things as the quality, state, condition, performance or characteristics of goods are called ‘express warranties’. This is different to a warranty against defects, which may also be known as a voluntary, manufacturers or extended warranty. For further information about the operation of warranties see our Warranties for goods and services page.

Go back to the business and ask them to fix the problem.

Fixing the problem might involve a repair, replacement, or refund. If it is a major problem or can’t be fixed within a reasonable time you can choose. This is when the product:

  • has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying the item if they had known about it
  • is unsafe
  • is significantly different from the sample or description
  • doesn’t do what the business said it would, or what you asked for and can’t be easily fixed.

See our repair, replace, refund page for further information.

If the business refuses to do anything about it, consider asking to speak to the manager or writing the business a complaint letter.

For help on how to write a complaint letter see our Writing a complaint letter page.

If direct contact with the business fails, you may wish to:

Did you get professional services from a qualified architect or engineer?

These rights don't apply to you

Rights to repair, replace or refund under the Australian Consumer Law don’t apply to these services. Check with the relevant industry association to see whether other laws, professional standards or codes of conduct apply.

Did the services cost less than $40,000 (incl. GST)?

Are the services of a kind usually bought for domestic, household or personal use?

Have the services been carried out with an acceptable level of skill and/or technical knowledge?

Example:

You go to a hairdresser and ask for a cut and colour. The hairdresser accidentally uses peroxide instead of the colour you asked for and bleaches your hair. In this case the hairdresser has not used care and skill when colouring your hair and you should use your rights.

Do the services meet the purpose or give the result that you made known to the service provider before they agreed to carry out the service?

Example:

You ask a carpenter to build a fence to cover the whole front of your house, which is 10 metres long and 3 metres high. The fence that is built is only 2 metres high and does not cover the whole house frontage. The service isn’t fit for purpose and you should use your rights.

If the contract does not specify a time frame for the services to be completed, have the services been completed within a reasonable time?

Example:

A plumber agrees to fix your leaking pipes. You do not discuss how long it will take to complete the repairs. The plumber starts the repairs but then does not come back to your house for over a fortnight. In this case, the repairs were not completed within a reasonable time and you should use your rights.

Go back to the business and ask them to fix the problem

This may involve a repair (fixing the problem), replacement (compensation), or refund. If it is a major problem or can’t be fixed within a reasonable time you can choose. This is when the service:

  • has a problem that would have stopped someone from purchasing it if they had known about it
  • is substantially unfit for its common purpose and can't be easily fixed within a reasonable time
  • does not meet the specific purpose you asked for and cannot be easily rectified within a reasonable time
  • creates an unsafe situation.

See our repair, replace, refund page page for further information.

If the business refuses to do anything about it, consider asking to speak to the manager or writing the business a complaint letter.

For help on how to write a complaint letter see our Writing a complaint letter page.

If direct contact with the business fails, you may wish to:

Not faulty under the consumer guarantees

The good or service is not faulty so the business does not need to give you a repair, replacement or refund.

To find out more about your rights see our Consumer page.

More information

Consumer rights & guarantees