Two Consumer members who splashed out $3600 on a new oven that ended up needing a series of repairs have successfully argued for a replacement from the manufacturer.

Their oven troubles started five years after purchase when the hinges and indicator light on the appliance had to be replaced. In March this year, the fan element failed and had to be replaced. At the same time, the couple discovered the stove’s insulation had perished and was no longer functioning as it should.

The manufacturer informed them no spare parts were available to fix the insulation. Instead, it offered a 30 percent discount on a new oven.

Unconvinced this was a reasonable offer, the couple contacted our advisory service to find out their rights.

Consumer adviser Maggie Edwards said the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) applied as the appliance wasn’t of acceptable quality. “When you pay $3600 for an oven, you expect it to cook a few hot dinners before having to call in the repairers,” she said.

“The Act also requires manufacturers to provide spare parts and repair facilities for a reasonable time. This is the case for any product, unless you’re told when you make your purchase they aren’t available.”

Maggie suggested the couple approach the manufacturer and explain its obligations under the CGA.

“When you claim against a manufacturer, the Act gives you the right to seek compensation for the loss in value of a product. As a key component of this oven was unable to be repaired, preventing the appliance from functioning as designed, we consider the couple had experienced a total loss and would be entitled to claim the purchase price.”

When they went back to the manufacturer, it agreed to replace the oven as a gesture of goodwill.

Legal points

The CGA requires products to be of acceptable quality, including being free from minor defects and durable. If something goes wrong, you have the right to insist the seller makes good. Generally speaking, this means the retailer who sold you the goods.

You can also choose to claim against the manufacturer. Where a product isn’t of acceptable quality, manufacturers are obliged to pay compensation for any loss in value arising from the defect.

Complaining to the manufacturer is useful when the retailer has gone out of business or is proving hopeless to deal with. But in most cases it’s easier to go direct to the retailer.