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Call For Manufacturers, Traders To Relook At Their Warranty Policies

Call For Manufacturers, Traders To Relook At Their Warranty Policies
July 06
10:00 2018

 

When consumers pay more for warranty on their prod­ucts, they place their faith in traders to be able to fix a fault when required.

A warranty is a promise, often made by a manufacturer, to stand behind its product or to fix certain defects or malfunctions over a cer­tain period of time.

The warranty pays for any repairs or part replacements covered dur­ing the warranty period.Cropped hand of graphic designer using laptop

Sometimes some consumers sign hire purchase agreements in a haste because they believe the transac­tion has been made in good faith by the credit providers.

In some instances the trader fails to divulge key information that could assist them in understanding their agreement and warranty in­formation better.

A more common issue surround­ing warranty is the manufacturer’s use of the third party involvement clause to deny fixing a product ini­tially sold or produced by them.

Many manufacturers will void your warranty if the product you buy has been repaired by someone other than them or someone they authorize.

In some cases they also void your warranty if you use parts not be­longing to the manufacturer.

Some manufacturers go to the ex­tent of indicating that if consumers want warranty coverage, the war­ranty seal must be intact – meaning a consumer cannot open a product case.

This then means a consumer can­not make even the most minor re­pairs without consulting the manu­facturer.

In Fiji most if not all cases of war­ranty is made null and void when a consumer uses a third party to rem­edy faults.

This could soon change however after Apple USA was handed a US$9million fine by the Federal Court of Australia for misleading Australian consumers.

The case found that Apple had en­gaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in its refusal to provide free repairs to Apple devices previ­ously serviced by a third party.

At least 275 Australian customers had been denied remedy for their faulty device because they used a third party repairer.

The court found Apple USA, as par­ent company, needed to modify their policies and conform to

Australian laws which meant they were required to repair the phones regardless of whether or not they sought a third party to rem­edy the faults initially.

The case has set precedence for changes across the globe.

Manufacturers refusing warranty just because the warranty seal is broken is absurd. Voiding the war­ranty means manufacturers are forcing consumers to use their prod­uct parts or services as a requirement for warranty cover­age.

Denying a consumer their rights simply for choosing a third party re­pairer not only impacts those con­sumers but can discourage other customers from making informed choices about their repair options.

This can include places that may offer lower cost than the manufac­turer.

The only likely scenario where the restriction is understandable is if the manufacturer proves that their parts are needed for the prod­uct to function.

Most times this situation is highly unlikely because there are other businesses that provide parts or services that are equally capable of getting a product to function.

Take for instance broken smart phone screens. They are fairly easy to replace and consumers can either go to a third party or if re­sourceful enough, they can fix it themselves.

But this act alone could void their warranty according to the manufac­turer’s warranty information.

Many warranty policies indicate that screens damaged by the con­sumer will not be repaired by the manufacturer.

How then do screen repairs con­ducted by a third party void war­ranty if the screen damage was not covered by warranty in the first place?

Provisions in policies that tie war­ranty coverage to the use of particu­lar products or service harm con­sumers who would end up paying more, even though cheaper repair alternatives were available.

It also harms small businesses who offer competing products.

Provisions as such are unethical and unacceptable and the Council strongly recommends that manu­facturers and traders relook at their warranty policies and modify them accordingly.

Manufacturers also have the op­tion of giving consumers more re­pairs and service locations that will be able to conduct repairs for free.

This way, consumers are not forced to return to the manufacturer for re­pairs to damages covered under the warranty.

Consumers are also reminded to read warranty policies carefully and not let companies bully them with unethical warranty require­ments.

Consumers facing similar is­sues are encouraged to contact the Council on complaints@consumer­sfiji.org or call the toll free helpline on 155.

*Please note the Council is now located at Level 5, Vanua House, Victoria Parade, Suva.

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