$200,000 fine for Noel Leeming

The retailer has copped a $200,000 fine for misleading consumers about their rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA).

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Big-box appliance retailer Noel Leeming has copped a $200,000 fine for misleading consumers about their rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA).

The company was convicted on eight charges under the Fair Trading Act, for making false or misleading representations to consumers about their CGA rights.

The charges stem from complaints to the Commerce Commission from consumers who purchased products between September 2015 and January 2017.

The commission said consumers were misled about:

  • the right to seek remedies for faulty goods from Noel Leeming rather than the manufacturer
  • the right to a refund for a faulty product
  • the right to a replacement for a faulty product.

Judge Nicola Mathers said there were “direct and significant departures from the truth in every case … consumers were denied their rights and had real difficulty dealing with Noel Leeming.”

Commissioner Anna Rawlings said Noel Leeming’s conduct was not a “one-off” event.

“Consumers complained to Noel Leeming about products and were entitled to have their complaints treated seriously, investigated properly and remedied where appropriate. Instead they were misled – sometimes repeatedly – about their rights under the law, at a moment when it really mattered to consumers that their legal rights were honoured,” she said.

The company’s misrepresentations included statements that:

  • CGA claims about an iPhone had to be negotiated with Apple
  • the CGA “is not effective for” Noel Leeming
  • a consumer had to contact Microsoft about a faulty product
  • Noel Leeming could repair a fridge as many times as it liked; the consumer was also told he could only get store credit to purchase another fridge
  • mobile phones are only replaced within 14 days and a new phone could only be obtained if a fault occurs three times.

“These statements are simply wrong. The CGA entitles consumers to receive a remedy from Noel Leeming, as the supplier. A supplier cannot refuse to deal with its customers and refer them to the manufacturer. The CGA is also clear about the circumstances in which a refund or replacement is available,” Ms Rawlings said.

Since 2007, Noel Leeming has received warnings or compliance advice from the commission on three occasions about potentially misleading consumers.

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