Legal proceedings against 11 Harvey Norman franchisees for allegedly misrepresenting consumer rights have begun in the Federal Court in Sydney.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges the franchisees engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by making false or misleading representations to consumers about their rights under the consumer guarantee provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The Harvey Norman franchisees are:
•    Avitalb Pty Limited, located in Albany, Western Australia
•    Bunavit Pty Limited, located in Bundall, Queensland
•    Camavit Pty Limited, located in Campbelltown, New South Wales
•    Gordon Superstore Pty Limited, located in Gordon, New South Wales
•    HP Superstore Pty Limited, located in Hoppers Crossing, Victoria
•    Ipavit Pty Limited, located in Ipswich, Queensland
•    Launceston Superstore Pty Limited, located in Launceston, Tasmania
•    Mandurvit Pty Limited, located in Mandurah, Western Australia
•    Moonah Superstore Pty Limited, located in Moonah, Tasmania
•    Oxteha Pty Limited, located in Oxley, Queensland, and
•    Salecomp Pty Limited, located in Sale, Victoria.

“The Australian Consumer Law provides consumers with rights to certain remedies from retailers and manufacturers when goods fail to comply with the consumer guarantee provisions, including that goods are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.

“For example, if an item purchased breaks down within a short time of being purchased, the consumer may be entitled to a refund or a replacement item.”

The court orders the ACCC is seeking include penalties, declarations, injunctions and costs.

Earlier this year the ACCC embarked on a national consumer guarantees awareness raising campaign, ‘If it’s not right, use your rights. Repair, replace, refund.’

“Consumer Guarantees has been identified as a national priority by ACL Regulators and is a matter of particular concern for the ACCC with more than 16,000 contacts from members of the public to the ACCC’s Infocentre so far this year,” Sims said.

The ACCC has also engaged with industry to educate retailers and manufacturers about their obligations under the ACL.

The ACCC is conducting a number of investigations into other large manufacturers and retailers for alleged misrepresentations of consumer guarantee rights in breach of the ACL.