A consumer is a person who purchases goods or services for personal or household use. Most consumer dealings are based on the law of contract. Central to the common law rules of contract is the assumption of a bargain freely struck between equal parties. However, most consumer goods are manufactured, marketed and sold by large corporations operating on a world wide basis.
In recognition of the fact that consumers do not have the same level of knowledge, expertise, experience and resources as business corporations, a national consumer legislative scheme (“the Australian Consumer Law”) has been created with the cooperation of Federal and State governments to protect consumers from unscrupulous traders.
The main pieces of consumer protection legislation are:
This section examines some of the key consumer protection legislation. A prudent consumer should however acknowledge the responsibility of "smart shopping". To be satisfied with the goods or services you buy and to get value for money:
- shop around carefully and obtain several quotes before you buy - compare products and services on the basis of quality and price;
- make sure you get a detailed written quotation for any repair, maintenance or construction work;
- ensure that the person who does the work is licensed with the appropriate authority;
- do not be rushed; it is your time and your money;
- do not pay a deposit unless you are really sure that you want the goods or services;
- if you change your mind you are not automatically entitled to get your money back; you are generally only entitled to a refund if the goods are faulty;
- make sure you know the total cost of all fees and charges if you are buying on credit;
- be sure to get the trader's promises (including guarantees and warranties) in writing;
- you have the right to have all documents fully explained to you by the trader - however it is your responsibility to read and understand all documents before you sign them;
- you have a right to a receipt for goods and services you pay for, keep them along with contracts and guarantee documents, and fill out any guarantee slips and send them off soon after you buy;and
- GST must be included in all prices.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.