ACCC shares 8 misleading statements for consumers to look out for in 2024

Abstract graphic representation of woman looking for misleading statements when shopping.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced a staggering 28,000 consumer guarantee issues were raised in 2023, stressing that when it comes to refunds and warranties, Australian consumers may be entitled to more than they think.

Nearly a third of all issues raised last year (excluding scams) were around guarantee issues, roughly 30%, highlighting the challenges faced by consumers around defective products and services.

Further, it seems certain statements may be misleading consumers when it comes to asking for a refund when a product is defective, or when their warranty expires.

Consumers have the right to choose a refund

ACCC Deputy Chair, Catriona Lowe, made it clear that despite some misleading statements from businesses around warranty periods, consumers have certain rights.

“When you buy a product or service from a business, you have automatic rights called ‘consumer guarantees’ under the Australian Consumer Law and they exist regardless of any warranty offered by the business,” Lowe explained.

“Even if a voluntary warranty, manufacturer’s warranty, or extended warranty has expired, you may still be able to use your consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law, which don’t have a specific expiry date.”

The ACCC findings named motor vehicles, electronics, white goods, and homewares as the prominent products Aussie consumers had guarantee (refund/warranty) issues with, and urged businesses to uphold their responsibilities when it comes to consumer rights.

Statements like 'no refunds under any circumstances' are incorrect and can often lead a consumer to accept a faulty product or service without question, but this is untrue.

If a product or service has a major problem, consumers do have the right to choose a refund.

8 misleading statements to look out for

According to the ACCC, consumers should look out for the following misleading statements on businesses' websites when buying products and services.

  1. "Your product is out of warranty, so we can only repair it for a fee."
  2. "No refunds under any circumstances."
  3. "To be eligible for a refund, you must return the product within 10 days."
  4. "You will need to contact the manufacturer to have this issue resolved."
  5. "If you don't buy the extended warranty, you'll have no protection once the 12-month warranty expires."
  6. "We understand your concern that if you were made aware of this fault beforehand, you would not have purchased the product. We can offer you 50 per cent of the original purchase price as a goodwill gesture."
  7. "The damaged item must be returned in its original packaging to receive a refund."
  8. "We identified the screen is cracked on your product. The warranty doesn’t cover damaged screens, so we can’t help you today."

    Source: ACCC

The ACCC also stresses the importance of reporting businesses using these statements to prevent other consumers from being misled.

"If consumers see a false or misleading statement about the consumer guarantees, they can report it to their local state or territory consumer protection agency and the ACCC. Reports from the public inform the ACCC’s compliance and enforcement work."

Know your rights and check the fine print

Mozo experts have been analysing consumer product information as part of the Mozo Experts Choice Awards since 2015, and provider satisfaction as part of Mozo's Peoples Choice Awards launched in 2009, so our team knows just how tricky terms and conditions can be.

However, the complexities of the fine print shouldn't stop shoppers from making sure they know their rights, especially when it comes to consumer guarantees.

Australians should be double-checking the fine print, the consumer rights they hold, and question any definitive statements businesses make around warranties and refunds. If you have any concerns, you should contact an ACCC representative to get a clear answer.

As the cost of living continues to rise and we battle with a higher-for -longer interest rate environment, every cent counts.

If you deserve a refund don't be afraid to ask for it.