(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).
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