Consumer Guarantees and Used Cars

(This is not legal advice.  There are no written reasons for the VCAT decision so I am relying on notes I took during the hearing).

A Victorian consumer recently received a full refund of the price he paid for a 4-year-old car which developed a serious problem 12 months after purchase.

This outcome is not very common, not least because there are often evidentiary issues in these cases.  However, it illustrates how the right to a refund or repair of faulty goods clearly extends to used cars – and can apply years after the end of any manufacturer’s warranty.

G bought the used Volkswagen Golf from a VW dealer in February 2014 for $14,500.  He had the car just under a year when it developed a serious problem, requiring replacement of the engine.  The quote for repair was $15,540.  Volkswagen Australia offered to pay half the cost of the part, as a ‘good will’ gesture.  However, this would have left G with a bill of $9,200.

G took his case against the VW dealer to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Consumer Guarantees

When anyone buys goods or services, those goods or services must meet certain standards called ‘guarantees’ under the Australian Consumer Law.

Both manufactures and sellers are responsible for consumer guarantees. However, consumers often believe (wrongly) that any claim they have for faulty goods must be made against the manufacturer.

It is often easier and preferable to approach sellers when claiming consumer guarantees, particularly because where there is a major fault, the seller will be obliged to provide a refund or replacement. The seller can’t refuse to honour the guarantee or insist that the consumer claim from the manufacturer.  Continue reading

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Dodgy marketing of college courses

Over the last six months I’ve spent time on the phone with dodgy salespeople – I even had someone visit my home – to try to uncover which training college was at the bottom of misleading telemarketing calls.

The marketing of college courses is out of control and will remain so, despite some attempts at stricter guidelines and obligations on colleges to rein in their sales agents.

The industry, and government, may suggest we wait to see if recent initiatives improve the conduct of sales agents work.  However, I believe we will continue to see significant problems until all telemarketing and door-to-door selling of courses is banned, based on:

  • Sales agent problems in other industries
  • My recent experience with telemarketers selling online courses
  • The difficulty involved in monitoring the conduct of a large number of agents and enforcing current obligations on colleges.

Continue reading

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Has the Government put Rick Otton’s book in all the libraries?

Rick Otton and his students go to great lengths to show how “rent to buy” strategies are accepted – even supported – by Government, the Courts and the banks.

Most of these claims are probably inconsequential in their own right, but it appears that they aim to build up a picture of strategies that are ‘mainstream’ and safe.  The risk is that some people confidently put these strategies into action, and find out too late that some aspects of the practices have not been fully tested in the Courts and are open to challenge.

book in libraries

Here is just another example where Otton claims in 2013 that the Government put his book “How to Buy a House for $1″  in all libraries, and says “they appreciate progress”.   Replies to his post on Facebook include “Awesome”, “fantastic Rick, great success”, and “outstanding”.

Admittedly, the Trove service is created and maintained by the National Library (an Australian Government institution), but that is where Government involvement ends.

According to the Trove website it “provides access to more than 380 million resources” with a link to Australia including books, newspapers, journals and websites.

I probably don’t need to go any further to suggest that it would be physically impossible for Government to make a value judgement on each of the 380 million resources on Trove, which as well as Otton’s book include books supporting Scientology, Creationism, and 9/11 conspiracy theories!

Otton is correct however, in noting that his book is available to borrow from some public libraries.

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So what does a ‘peak body’ do anyway?

Last year the Federal Government cut funding to some peak bodies, including bodies representing disability and housing services. It may initially appear sensible to make funding cuts to ‘peak bodies’ that don’t usually provide direct services to clients – but these bodies indirectly help disadvantaged people in ways that individual services can’t.
I’d like to share as an example, the work of one peak body I am familiar with – Financial Counselling Australia (FCA).  To date FCA receives funding from Government to employ just over 2 FTE positions; however its funding position beyond June 2015 is unclear. Continue reading

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Publicity Monster finally pays up

See previous post for background.

In June 2014, the Victorian Tribunal (VCAT) waived any obligation for my friend L’s business to pay $3,030 to Publicity Monster (PMAU) and ordered PMAU to refund to L the $1,317.80 he had paid them.  Publicity Monster is part of the Search Results Group and a business name of PMAU Pty Ltd. Continue reading

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When the going gets tough, the tough get …evasive?

How have prominent rent-to-buy figures responded to challenges?

facebook comment re we buy houses   The rent-to-buy industry has faced some challenges over the past few years, including negative media coverage, attention from regulators and a series of prosecutions. Continue reading

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Publicity Monster customers get more than they bargain for

For a change, this post isn’t about rent-to-buy property.

New: If you would like some legal information about running a similar case, send me an email (see the “about” page for my email address) or leave a comment (I won’t publish your comment) and I will send you a document by email.

This is about one person’s dispute with online marketing/SEO business  Publicity Monster (PMAU), in the hope that it might help others in a similar situation. For more about complaints regarding PMAU see hundreds of comments on the Whirlpool Forum here. Continue reading

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