If you believe one or more of your consumer protection guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law has been breached, you may do the following:
1. Find out what compensation you are entitled to
You could be entitled to compensation from the business if they breach a consumer protection guarantee. The aim of compensation is to put you in the position you would have been in had the consumer protection guarantee not been breached.
- Direct financial loss (e.g. purchase price);
- Loss in time;
- Loss in productivity; and
- Other losses stemming from the breach.
These last three types of loss are called “consequential loss”. Generally, you can only recover consequential loss that is reasonably foreseeable. This means you can recover losses that:
- the business would have expected you to suffer from a breach of that consumer guarantee; and
- are reasonably foreseeable.
Compensation is limited to putting you back to the position you were, or would have been in, had the breach not occurred.
2. Gather your evidence
To get compensation, you will need to show:
- That you purchased the good or service from the business;
- That the business breached a consumer guarantee for that good or service; and
- The amount of loss suffered due to the breach.
Evidence of proof of purchase may include:
- Purchase receipt;
- Lay-by receipt;
- Credit card statement; or
- Any other statement or reference number that links the purchase with the business.
Keep detailed records of the breach. If you have a defective product, record the dates and times during which the product was defective. If you received unsatisfactory service, obtain written quotes and opinions from other service providers regarding the same service.
3. Negotiate with the Seller or Service Provider
Try to speak with the seller or service provider first. Explain to them:
- Details of your purchase or service;
- Why you have a problem with this product or service;
- What loss you suffered as a result of the problem;
- What you believe to be a reasonable solution to your problem; and
- What you would like the business to do about this problem.
Record your communication attempts with the business and the outcome of each attempt. If possible, confirm any verbal conversations (e.g. telephone conversations) with the business in writing in a follow-up email or letter. Make a note of:
- The date and time of the conversation;
- Who you spoke with (ask for that person’s employee ID or name);
- The content of the conversation;
- The outcome of the conversation; and
- Any follow up actions to be taken by you or the business and their deadline.
4. Enquire about your consumer protection rights or lodge a complaint
You may make specific consumer protection enquiries about your situation with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
If you can’t reach a satisfactory resolution with the business, you may lodge a free complaint against that business at:
- NSW: Fair Trading NSW (www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au)
- VIC: Consumer Affairs Victoria (www.consumer.vic.gov.au)
- ACT: Office of Regulatory Services (www.ors.act.gov.au)
- QLD: Department of Justice and Attorney-General (Office of Fair Trading) (www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au)
- NT: NT Consumer Affairs (www.consumeraffairs.nt.gov.au)
- SA: Consumer and Business Services South Australia (www.ocba.sa.gov.au)
- WA: Department of Commerce – Consumer Protection WA (www.commerce.wa.gov.au/ConsumerProtection)