Nicholas with his new iPod
Watch out for "refurbished" goods when you should be getting new.
Nicholas Baxter got a new iPod for his 13th birthday, a highly prized gift for any teenager. Mum Helen says the family wanted to give Nicholas something special to mark the occasion and the $300 iPod fitted the bill nicely. The gift was a hit – until it suddenly stopped working.
Helen says the iPod "froze" some months after they bought it. She took it back to the retailer, Dick Smith Electronics in Takapuna, to get it fixed. She knew the iPod was still under warranty so expected there wouldn't be any hitch.
Dick Smith told us a "minor fault" was found and the iPod was replaced with a "refurbished" model. Refurbished electronics are usually products that have previously been returned to the manufacturer – either because they had some fault or weren't wanted – and "refreshed" for resale (at a lower price than a new one).
iPod manufacturer Apple states its refurbished products undergo a "stringent quality" process and are "fully functional" but concedes they may have minor cosmetic imperfections "such as scratches, marks, discolouration, etc".
Helen says they had further problems with the refurbished iPod they were given. They made another trip to Dick Smith to get things sorted. She also called us for advice.
Consumer Guarantees Act
Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards believes Helen was within her rights to ask for a new iPod or a refund: "The Consumer Guarantees Act says if a product is faulty, the retailer can make good by repairing it, replacing it with a product of an identical type or providing a refund. In this case, the retailer opted to replace the iPod but with a second-hand 'refurbished' model. We think the replacement should have been a new iPod".
Armed with this advice, the family told Dick Smith they didn't want the refurbished iPod. They said they wanted a new one to replace the original they had bought. Helen says they stood their ground and the store agreed.
Dick Smith told us it subsequently tested the refurbished iPod and couldn't find any faults. It believes it acted as a responsible retailer and says it takes its obligations under the CGA "very seriously and works hard to ensure customers receive the best possible service".
This isn't the first case we've heard of where a new product that's faulty has been replaced with a "refurbished" model. In our view, this practice doesn't comply with the law. Refurbished products are effectively second-hand and of lesser value. If you're offered a replacement for your near-new good, we think it should be a new product – not a pre-owned refurbished one.
- Consumer Guarantees Act - our guide to your rights
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