Customers - How the Act applies to Consumers

Customer Rights and Remedies
The rights of the customer to redress depend on the type of problem they have with the goods.

1. If the fault is minor or can be repaired.
If the problem with the goods can be fixed the customer can ask you to put it right. You can choose to do this either by repairing the goods or by giving a replacement. You must act within a reasonable time and provide the repair or replacement free of charge. The customer must accept either the repair or replacement that you choose to offer.

If you refuse to do something about the faulty goods when it is possible for them to be put right or if you take more than a reasonable time to put it right the customer can choose to:
  • Get their money back.
  • Get a replacement or,
  • Take the goods somewhere else to be fixed and claim the cost of the repair from you.
It is the customer's decision which of these option they choose.

2. What is a reasonable time for getting a repair done?
A "reasonable time" for a repair is not defined in the Act and will depend on the nature of the goods and other circumstances. Often it will be a short time.

eg, one day would be a reasonable time for a repair of a pair of shoes that the customer needs. Most shoe repairers offer same day repairs so this is not unreasonable. Similarly if a customer has bought something they need to use eg a heater, they could not be expected to wait longer than a day for a repair. If this is not possible you could offer another heater on loan while the customer's heater is repaired. It is the customer's choice whether they accept the loan.
If the goods are only used once a week eg a lawn mower, a reasonable time for a repair would be one week.

3. What if a repair will be expensive?
If it is possible to repair goods but the cost of the repair will be more than the value of the goods you do not have to offer a repair. You can replace the goods or if this is not possible you can give a refund.

4. Do I have to pay if a customer gets it fixed elsewhere?
The customer must have given you the opportunity to put the problem right first. If you have refused to do anything or have taken longer than a reasonable time to provide a repair or replacement the customer can get the repair done elsewhere.

 You must pay for the repair. The customer does not have to get your agreement before taking the goods elsewhere and does not have to provide quotes. But you can only be asked to pay reasonable costs for the repair.

5. What is a reasonable cost for a repair?
A reasonable cost will include the cost of the repair and any other costs such as parking fees or transport costs. A reasonable cost for the repair itself will be a cost within the normal range charged by repairers of the goods.

eg, the zip on a pair of trousers breaks after one week. The shop tells the customer the repair will take 10 days. The customer needs the trousers for work. He gets the zip replaced by a tailor for $35. The shop says that their dressmaker would have done it for $15. If $35 is a normal price for a tailor to do the job you must pay it. The fact that you have access to a cheaper repair is not relevant because you did not provide a repair within a reasonable time.