Nine Harvey Norman franchisees facing ACCC Federal Court action

Nine Harvey Norman franchisees are currently facing legal proceedings brought on by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for allegedly misrepresenting consumer rights.

The ACCC claims Harvey Norman franchisees conveyed incorrect information concerning warranties and product returns to customers.

This legal action is a re-institution following the ACCC’s inability to try all Harvey Norman franchisees collectively. The cases against the nine businesses will now be heard separately.

The Harvey Norman franchisees are:

Avitalb Pty Limited, located in Albany, Western Australia
Bunavit Pty Limited, located in Bundall, Queensland
Camavit Pty Limited, located in Campbelltown, New South Wales
HP Superstore Pty Limited, located in Hoppers Crossing, Victoria
Launceston Superstore Pty Limited, located in Launceston, Tasmania
Mandurvit Pty Limited, located in Mandurah, Western Australia
Moonah Superstore Pty Limited, located in Moonah, Tasmania
Oxteha Pty Limited, located in Oxley, Queensland
Salecomp Pty Limited, located in Sale, Victoria

The ACCC described the scope of the proceedings thus:

While the allegations made by the ACCC against each of the franchisees differ, examples of the misrepresentations include representations that:

-The franchisee had no obligation to provide remedies for damaged goods unless notified within a specific period of time such as 24 hours or 14 days;
-The franchisee had no obligation to provide remedies for goods still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty;
-Consumers must pay a fee for the repair and return of faulty products.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said retailers and manufacturers must ensure they do not mislead consumers in relation to warranty claims.

“The ACCC will continue to take enforcement action where it believes that retailers or manufacturers have misled consumers about their rights under the consumer guarantee provisions of the Australian Consumer Law,” Sims said.

“Consumers have rights to certain remedies from retailers and manufacturers when goods fail to comply with the consumer guarantee provisions, including that goods are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold.”

“These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified,”

Although the ACCC is only targeting nine individual Harvey Norman businesses, Rod Sims did make a carefully-worded statement regarding the role Harvey Norman’s corporate head office in this affair.

“While the ACCC does not allege that Harvey Norman Holdings Limited is involved in making of these representations, the fact that the allegations made by the ACCC relate to a number of its stores in widespread locations across Australia is of great concern to the ACCC, and I expect to Harvey Norman too,” he said.

According to a statement, the ACCC is “seeking court orders including penalties, declarations, injunctions and costs against each of the nine franchisees”.

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