Consumer Guarantees: Navigating Rights, Remedies and Business Responsibilities

Ian Aldridge WebsiteAuthor: Ian Aldridge, Progressive Legal

consumer guarantees

In the dynamic landscape of Australian commerce, it is imperative for business owners to be well-versed in consumer guarantees. Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), a set of automatic and implied guarantees exists to protect consumers who have purchased products and services.

These guarantees ensure that goods and services meet an acceptable standard, reflecting a commitment to fairness and transparency in transactions. As a business owner, understanding these guarantees is not just a legal obligation but also a strategic move to build trust with your customers.

Need help with consumer guarantees?

Contact Progressive Legal for expert commercial advice.

What are the consumer guarantees?

Consumer guarantees are automatic and implied assurances provided to consumers under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) regarding the quality and standards of goods and services. These guarantees ensure that the products and services purchased meet certain expectations and are of an acceptable standard.

Under the ACL, which can be found in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), various guarantees are outlined to protect consumers, and these are overseen by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Who qualifies as a consumer?

Before getting into the specifics of consumer guarantees, it’s crucial to understand who qualifies as a consumer under the ACL. A person is considered a consumer if they acquire goods or services priced at less than $100,000 or if the goods or services are ‘of a kind ordinarily acquired for personal, domestic, or household use or consumption.’

This definition excludes purchases for re-supply, in the course of production or manufacture, or in the course of repairing or treating other goods.

What are the specific consumer guarantees under the ACL?

The ACL outlines several guarantees applicable to both goods and services. For the guarantees to apply, the supply of services must be ‘in trade or commerce’ within Australia or between Australia and places outside Australia.

Goods Guarantees

Guarantee to Title

Suppliers guarantee that they have title to the goods and the right to sell them to consumers.

Guarantee to Undisturbed Possession

Suppliers guarantee that consumers will obtain undisturbed possession of the goods without interference.

Guarantee to Undisclosed Securities

If the supplier fails to disclose limited title to the products, there is an automatic guarantee that the products are free from security interests or encumbrances.

Acceptable Quality

Products must be of acceptable quality, meeting criteria such as fitness for purpose, acceptable appearance, freedom from defects, safety, and durability.

Fitness for Purpose

If the supplier represents that goods are for a specific purpose, the goods must be fit for that purpose.

Guarantee When Goods Are Supplied by Description

Goods supplied by description must match that description, especially in online retail scenarios.

Guarantee When Goods Are Supplied by Demonstration

Goods supplied by reference to a sample or demonstration model must correspond with the sample or model.

Guarantee to Repairs and Spare Parts

Suppliers guarantee that facilities for repairing goods and obtaining spare parts will be reasonably available for an adequate period.

Guarantee to Express Warranties for Goods

When goods come with an express warranty, there is a guarantee that the manufacturer will comply with that warranty.

Services Guarantees

Guarantee of Due Care and Skill

When providing services, due care and skill must be exercised.

Guarantee as to Fitness for Purpose

Services and any resulting products must be of the nature, quality, state, or condition that the consumer reasonably expected.

Guarantee as to Reasonable Time for Supply

Services must be supplied within a reasonable time if no specific time frame is fixed.

Ensure your operations align with the Australian Consumer Law, fortifying your relationship with customers and protecting your brand integrity. Request our advice today.

What are the exceptions to consumer guarantees?

It’s essential to note that consumer guarantees don’t apply if you aren’t a consumer, misuse a product causing a problem, were aware of faults before purchasing, change your mind after purchase, or bought a one-off item from a private seller.

Remedies and major failures in consumer guarantees

When it comes to consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), it’s essential to distinguish between minor and major failures. This distinction becomes crucial in determining the appropriate remedies available to consumers and understanding the obligations placed on businesses.

Minor Failures

Minor failures represent issues that, while falling short of major deviations, still affect the product or service’s functionality or quality. In the context of goods, a minor failure might include a defect that doesn’t significantly impact the overall use or safety of the product. For services, a minor failure could involve a slight oversight or delay that does not undermine the essential purpose of the service.

Remedies for Minor Failures

If the failure is minor:

For Goods

Consumers are entitled to request that the supplier remedies the failure within a reasonable time. This might involve repairing the goods, replacing them, or providing a refund for the affected portion of the purchase.

For Services

Consumers can request that the service provider rectifies the failure within a reasonable time. Remedies might include re-performing the service or, in some cases, offering compensation for any inconvenience caused.

Major Failures

In contrast, major failures represent significant breaches of consumer guarantees, rendering the product or service substantially unfit for its intended purpose or significantly different from what was agreed upon. Major failures trigger more extensive remedies and may result in actions such as rejection of goods or termination of service contracts.

Remedies for Major Failures

If the failure is deemed major:

For Goods

Consumers may have the right to reject the goods entirely and seek a full refund. Alternatively, they can opt for compensation for any foreseeable loss resulting from the failure.

For Services

Consumers might be entitled to terminate the service contract and seek compensation for any loss incurred due to the major failure. In certain cases, consumers might also be eligible for a refund of the services provided.

Understanding the distinction between minor and major failures is crucial for consumers seeking appropriate redress and for businesses aiming to rectify issues in compliance with the law.

What are the penalties for breaching consumer guarantees under the ACL?

Ensuring compliance with consumer guarantees is not just about fulfilling legal obligations; it’s a critical aspect of maintaining a reputable and trustworthy business. The ACL imposes significant penalties for businesses found in breach of consumer protections.

Civil Penalties

Businesses can face substantial civil penalties for contraventions of the ACL, imposed by courts and potentially amounting to millions of dollars.


Courts may issue injunctions, restraining orders preventing businesses from engaging in conduct that breaches consumer protections.

Compensation Orders

Businesses found guilty of breaching consumer guarantees may be required to compensate affected consumers for any losses incurred.

Corrective Advertising

Courts may order businesses to publish corrective advertising to rectify false or misleading statements made about products or services.

Administrative Remedies

Regulatory bodies, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), can seek administrative remedies, including issuing warnings or infringement notices.

Due Diligence to Avoid Penalties

Business owners are encouraged to conduct regular reviews of their business practices to ensure ongoing compliance with consumer protections. This includes maintaining transparent communication with consumers, offering accurate product or service descriptions, and promptly addressing any issues that arise.

Key Takeaways

Understanding and adhering to consumer guarantees not only fulfills legal obligations but also enhances customer trust and satisfaction. For business owners, it’s a strategic investment in long-term success, fostering positive relationships with consumers and maintaining a competitive edge in the market.

For more information on consumer guarantees and legal advice tailored to your business, contact our experienced commercial lawyers at Progressive Legal.

We’re here to assist you in navigating the complexities of consumer laws and ensuring your business operates with the highest standards of integrity and compliance. Contact us at 1800 820 083 or request our advice below.

Need help with consumer guarantees?

Contact us by giving us a call on 1800 820 083 or request our advice today.  

Contact Us

  • By submitting this form, your information will be dealt with in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You agree to receive emails from us, however you can unsubscribe at any stage.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Need Commercial Advice?

Please get in touch with us today via phone or the contact form on this page.

Contact Us

  • By submitting this form, your information will be dealt with in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You agree to receive emails from us, however you can unsubscribe at any stage.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.