Q&A: returning faulty goods

Q. I recently purchased a mobile phone from a dealer in Melbourne. After a few days I noticed that the phone would turn off by itself and displayed messages as a series of letters and numbers that made no sense. I took the phone back to the dealer and they told me that I have to go directly to the manufacturer to get the phone fixed. Is this true?

A. No. As a general rule, as a consumer you may choose to seek a remedy for faulty goods from either the supplier (in this case the dealer) or the manufacturer.

There are two main exceptions to this:

  1. If you are making a claim under the manufacturer’s warranty, you must go to the manufacturer direct; and
  2. Where the complaint relates to a failure on the part of the manufacturer to ensure that spare parts are available for the goods for a reasonable time after supply – again, you will need to approach the manufacturer, not the supplier.

The remedies available also depend upon whether you approach the supplier or manufacturer. You cannot demand a refund or replacement from a manufacturer, but can claim compensation for the reduction in value of a faulty product.