As much as it feels as though big businesses hold all the power, this isn’t really the case. Consumer law is designed to protect customers from unfair trade. This covers all aspects from faulty and dangerous goods to dishonest claims. But how many of us actually know our rights as a consumer? Knowing these basic consumer rights could save you from getting ripped off by businesses.
The first consumer law refers to deceptive conduct. It’s illegal for businesses to make claims, statements or advertisements that are likely to mislead customers. It isn’t only what businesses say, but what they don’t say that can be considered misleading; if a business fails to disclose relevant information that will influence the customer’s decision, this is also unlawful.
Businesses are also prohibited from making false claims about the products they are selling. This covers all aspects from the quality of the product to if the product is new. For example, if you were to buy a phone that was advertised as being new, and you later found out it was used, this would be considered as a false claim and is therefore illegal. Businesses can be fined up to $220,000 for an individual and $1.1 million for a body corporate if they are found to have made misleading claims. If you discover you have been misinformed by a business in regards to a purchase you recently made, you are within your rights to contact Fair Trading to come to an appropriate solution.
It may sometimes feel like big businesses make decisions that are wrong and unfair, however, under Consumer Law, businesses are not allowed to behave in a way that defies good conscience, this is contextual and based on a society’s expectations. Now, for something to be unconscionable it has to be more than just unfair; unfortunately, you can’t just take a business to court for something you believe to be unreasonable. This law is dependent on circumstances and is situational, but if you are not given sufficient time to read a contract and ask questions about it, this is breaking the law. Another example of unconscionable conduct is if a sales person uses high pressure tactics by refusing to leave your home or not taking ‘no’ for an answer.
As confusing as Consumer Law can be, it is always good to know your rights. There’s nothing worse than being ripped off by a big company and feeling as though you can’t do anything about it. So don’t forget that it is there to protect you as a customer and ensure that businesses aren’t taking advantage. If you feel like a business isn’t complying with Consumer Law, don’t be afraid of contacting Fair Trading.