ACCC takes Hewlett-Packard to court over misleading warranties

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has provided a timely reminder for manufacturers and retailers to abide by Australian Consumer Law when it comes to providing warranties and servicing information to customers.

The competition watchdog confirmed that it is taking legal action against Hewlett-Packard Australia for what it alleges was misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to consumers’ statutory warranty and guarantee rights.

According to the ACCC, Hewlett-Packard breached the Australian Consumer Law by implying that, among other allegations, consumers with faulty HP products were required to have the products repaired multiple times before a replacement could be issued and that remedies for faulty products were made available at HP’s sole discretion.

“The Australian Consumer Law provides consumers with rights to certain remedies from retailers and manufacturers, when goods fail to comply with the consumer guarantee provisions of the ACL, including that the goods are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold,” the ACCC said.

“If a good is not, for example, of acceptable quality consumers may be entitled to a refund or a replacement item.  These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.”

The ACCC alleges that these rights were modified by HP and that the computer company attempted to limit warranty periods and curtail consumers’ ability to return or exchange products bought on its online store.

As part of the legal proceedings, which are set down for a scheduling conference on 7 December 2012, the ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, “adverse publicity orders” and the implementation of a compliance program.

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