Appliance spare parts retailer breaches consumer law

Pays penalty and compensates customers.

Australian online whitegoods and electronic appliances spare parts retailer, Big Warehouse, has paid a $12,600 penalty, handed down by the ACCC, for allegedly breaching the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

In addition to paying this penalty, Big Warehouse has provided a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC in which it admits it was likely to have contravened the ACL by representing to consumers that:

  • spare parts were available for dispatch, when in fact they needed to be ordered from the manufacturer;
  • spare parts were compatible with the model of electrical appliance purchased by the consumer, when this was not the case;
  • the consumer was not entitled to a full refund or replacement where: a spare part ordered was not supplied within a reasonable time after payment was made; a spare part was not compatible with the electrical appliance set out in the consumer’s order; or a spare part was damaged during delivery and the consumer had not purchased insurance from Big Warehouse.

“Big Warehouse has admitted that when consumers requested a full refund or replacement, they were either denied one, only given a partial refund, or offered a store credit instead,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“According to some complaints, consumers were incorrectly charged for a replacement part in circumstances where they shouldn’t have been. Such charges included a 30% restocking fee to purchase the correct part. If a consumer buys a spare part and is provided the incorrect part or it is damaged on arrival, they are entitled under the Australian Consumer Law to choose a full refund or replacement.”

Under the terms of the enforceable undertaking given to the ACCC, Big Warehouse will provide compensation to certain customers who ordered spare parts and subsequently requested a full refund or replacement.

“We are pleased that Big Warehouse is taking steps to change its policies and compensate consumers. It is not okay to deny consumers their rights under the consumer law. We will continue to take enforcement action to send a strong deterrent message to businesses like Big Warehouse that this is not acceptable,” Court said.

From September 2017 until June 2019 the ACCC and other ACL regulators received a significant number of complaints in relation to the conduct which Big Warehouse has admitted is likely to have contravened the ACL.

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