Under the Australian Consumer Law, certain consumer guarantees apply automatically, including that a product must match the description, sample or demonstration model.
If a product does not match the description, for example, the consumer is entitled to a remedy. The type of remedy depends on whether the problem is major or minor.
The product is significantly different to a sample, description or demonstration model - for example, in a catalogue or television commercial.
Remedies for major problems
Consumers can choose whether to:
- reject the product and choose a refund or replacement, or
- keep it and the seller will compensate them for any drop in value.
It is not considered a major failure if the difference between the product and the sample, description or demonstration is not significant.
Remedies for minor problems
The store chooses whether to:
- provide a replacement that is identical, or of similar value
- repair the product within a reasonable time, or
- give a refund.
This guarantee does not apply to products bought at auction where the auctioneer acts on the seller’s behalf. If the consumer is shown a sample or demonstration model and given a description of the product, the product must match both.
A supplier or manufacturer cannot argue that the consumer inspected the product before purchase and should have picked up any errors in the description.
Suppliers and manufacturers also guarantee products will match any sample or demonstration model shown to the consumer.
Products sold by relying on a sample or demonstration model must not have any hidden defects.
A hidden defect is a problem that would:
- make the product of unacceptable quality, and
- not be noticeable to someone looking at the product.
The guarantee that products will match any sample or demonstration model applies even if the differences are unavoidable, provided they are substantial.
Reasonable time to compare
The consumer must be given a reasonable amount of time to compare the product with the original sample. This does not apply to demonstration models.