Know your consumer rights, by rantmandan

#1

I had a recent (bad) experience with a set of wellgo flat pedals failing. A large piece of the main pedal body snapped off while I was out riding, luckily I was able to limp home as the body was still attached to the spindle. These were not cheap pedals, so naturally I went back to the retailer in search of a refund or replacement. I’m happy to report that they will be sending a replacement out soon, however it was not without a fight. I wanted to put parts of the conversation up here as I think it highlights some of the ways in which retailers may try to get out of fulfilling their obligations under Australian consumer laws.


[i]Dear <company>,

I am writing to you regarding the wellgo pedals that I ordered (see details below). The right pedal catastrophically failed while I was riding late last year. These pedals are used on my commuter bike and I am unhappy at how little use I have got from them given the price. Can I please request a refund or credit note for the full purchase price?

Sincerely,

antmandan[/i]


[i]Hello antmandan,

Further to my previous email, I have been in contact with our Returns Department who have informed me that, unfortunately, the Wellgo B144 Flat Pedals are only covered by a 1 year warranty. I’m afraid that as these are nearly 2 years old, the supplier would not class this as a manufacturers fault. Please be advised that we need to confirm the fault with the supplier before an exchange or refund can be processed.

I apologise for any disappointment that this may cause.

If you would like any assistance with finding an alternative product or if you have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to let me know and I will be happy to help.

Sincerely,

<company>[/i]


They’ve tried to claim an ‘out of warranty’ defense here, this is bullshit and the ACCC have pages of info as to why. I’m no lawyer but my understanding is that a warranty is something that is volunteered by a retailer/manufacturer, however it does not replace reasonable expectations of durability. For example you would expect a fridge to last beyond a manufacturer’s 3-year warranty, and the ACCC and our consumer laws fortunately sees it this way as well, so if it packed it at 3 years and 2 months the retailer wouldn’t be able to weasel out of some form of repair/replacement/refund.

I return this salvo:

[i]Hi <company>,

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as a consumer I have the right to a refund on any defective product for what can be considered its reasonable lifetime. The 1 year warranty that you describe is a voluntary promise offered by <company>, however it does not replace my consumer guarantees, one such guarantee being that as a consumer I can expect reasonable durability from goods purchased, even from overseas entities such as <company>.

Any reasonable consumer would expect a pedal from a reputable brand such as Wellgo and of a price point that places it among other reputable brands such as Time, Shimano and Crank Brothers, to last more than 1 year. I would argue that reasonable durability of this product is also not a function of time but of distance and type of use. In the case of these pedals they were used on my commuter bicycle which sees an average of 2500km of use per year. The fact that these pedals are able to be disassembled for servicing and replacement of internal bearings suggests that as a consumer I could reasonable expect that the main pedal body and spindles would give many tens of thousands of kms of use. The same as you could expect a crank arm not to snap, however would expect that in time a chain will wear down and require replacement.

antmandan[/i]


[i]Hello antmandan

Thank you for getting back to me.

Unfortunately, we are only able to consider returns for faulty items providing that they are covered by supplier warranty. As they are out of warranty we are unable to offer a refund or exchange on this occasion.

However, you are welcome to contact Wellgo directly to see if they are able to offer a suitable solution.

If you are unable to seek a solution from the supplier we will be happy to look at honouring a suitable discount on a replacement as a gesture of goodwill.

Once again I am truly sorry for any disappointment and inconvenience that this may cause.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if there is anything else that I can help you with.[/i]


So, they have tried to fob me off to the manufacturer, no thanks, I bought it from you.


[i]Hi <company>,

I am not sure how well your returns department understand the nature of consumer protection laws in Australia, and that these protections extend to purchases made through overseas internet shopping channels, and also carry with them specific conditions regarding expectations of durability (Shopping online | ACCC). In any case I would like this problem to be resolved between us in an amicable manner. I did not purchase these goods from wellgo, I purchased them from <company> and as the retailer it is your responsibility to refund the goods if, as in this case they are, not fit for purpose. However, if we are unable to resolve the matter I will be forced to refer it to the ACCC and Office of Fair Trading.

Sincerely,

antmandan[/i]


[i]Hello antmandan,

Thank you for your email.

I have spoken to my manager who has confirmed, that on this occasion as a gesture of goodwill, we would be happy to offer you replacement Wellgo B144 Flat Pedals.

Unfortunately, these are currently out of stock but are expected for delivery around Early March.

May I kindly ask if you are happy for me to create a back order for the pedals so that they can be despatched as soon as they become available?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards[/i]


7 emails later we have a result :slight_smile:

/rant

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#2

Well done.

I think in a lot of cases retailers aren’t necessarily trying to get out of it. I think many times they don’t even know the laws they’re operating under.

I’ve done this sort of thing many times and it’s always been worth the extra effort.

It’s important for people to remember, as you’ve said above, that the manufacturers warranty is in effect a bonus above and beyond your statutory warranty.

And…that your contract is between you and the retailer, NOT the manufacturer.

Great job on your well worded arguments. It irritates me that they say as a gesture of goodwill they’ll replace them, as if it’s some kind of one-off favour they’re doing you. If you took it to Fair Trading, you’d win and they know it.

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#3

Well this is new to me.

Not to side with the retailer or anything, but how far can you take this- what is considered ‘reasonable’ and ‘durable’?
I mean if you buy a shimano shifter, race it hard and it dies a day after 1 year, does that entitle you to a new replacement?

And where does that leave the frame ‘lifetime’ warranty which are usually void the moment you ride the thing?

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#4

There’s no set time frames. If it comes to it, that’s what Fair Trading would decide. I guess my point was that just because the manufacturer warranty is x years, doesn’t mean you’re out of luck beyond that time.

But the main considerations are what’s a ‘reasonable’ expectation, and importantly, what does the item cost.

A good example is modern LED TVs. They typically have a one year warranty but can cost thousands, so if I had a TV fail just after one year I’d definitely pursue a warranty claim with the retailer.

A lot of the time I reckon it’s really a case of making it more difficult to fight your claim than it is just to replace the item.

Another difficult issue is that there are no statutory entitlements to refund vs replacement vs repair. So there’s no legal basis to insist on a refund if the retailer is willing to replace or repair for example.

Can you tell I’ve studied this stuff? Probably the only useful stuff I studied at Uni :slight_smile:

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#5

Sounds too good to be true!

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#6

Sure your not a lawyer?? Very well executed bro, feeling kinda proud the little guy got up #warmnfuzzy

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#7

I think every apple customer has to learn this.

I would have really put it to them after my iPhone died after 1.5 years if I knew this!

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#8

Just stand in the shop making a lot of noise and scaring people until they give in. That’s what my old man taught me. Works !!

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#9

This is overwhelmingly the biggest point and a lot of people get buffed off or told otherwise. It’s the shop or retailers problem and goes back to a precedent from many years ago governing the retailers responsibility. Of course the retailer will take it up with the manufacturer but if you’ve bought an item and it’s clearly not fit for purpose then you are entitled to a refund.

If you bought a can opener and it doesn’t open cans then you can take it back for a refund. Same goes for anything else despite what a retailer tells you. You just gotta chuck up a stink and refuse to be forced to do what the retailer would like (re: credit or different item). Most shop staff are told by management no refunds but this isn’t true or the law. You just gotta ask for the manager and let them know your rights and that you’ve a lot of time to waste and will keep on wasting their time with Fair Trading etc until they give in. They will. They’d be stupid not to.

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#10

Unless it’s changed in teh last three years or so, and possibly only in Victoria, there’s nothing that requires the retailer to give a refund instead of a replacement. You can request a refund, and conversely they can offer a replacement or repair. But there isn’t (or wasn’t) any specific rule either way. That’s gotta be negotiated between the buyer and retailer or decided by Fair Trading/Small Claims or whatever it is.

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#11

I’m not to sure on this, what is the reasonable time frame for an engine in a car to last? I bet it’s over 2 years 100,000km

There’s no way in the world if your engine blows up that any one would replace it.

The same goes for your pedals, I’m pretty sure it’s just a good faith replacement rather than the law.
What did they cost $80? So $40 a year so $3.33 a month It would be hard to win this one I’d say.

As for the warranty being the dole response ability of the retailer I’m not sure on this either as mad fibre have gone bust and if you bought some from a shop and there’s a problem who will fix them?

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#12

Shop’s problem. For realz.

Told to me by my lawyer. This all comes from case long ago (early 1930’s?) where a milk shop sold a soda to a customer. Even if it’s not mentioned one would naturally assume that when buying a drink it’s fit and safe to drink. That drink contained an insect or grub of some sort. The customer got sick and rightfully sued the Milk Shop because they actually sold the drink (and profited). They have a duty of care and the customer has a right to expect a certain level or standard. Of course the shop then sued the supplier of the drink, who then sued the manufacturer but this is an old law that stipulates a contract entered into and agreed upon upon point of sale and to stop retailers passing the buck if something goes wrong.

And it’s all legal & shit but it’s the truth I tell ya !!!

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#13

Fair Trading NSW …

You are entitled to ask the trader for a refund if the item you bought is:

  • not of acceptable quality
  • does not match the description
  • does not match the sample or demonstration model shown to you.
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#14

It’s not the sole responsibility of the retailer. The point was that the contract of sale is between the buyer and retailer, therefore the retailer can’t just fob you off to the manufacturer.

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#15

“Reasonable” often comes down to “what would a reasonable person expect in this situation”.

In my time schlepping shoes the general rule of thumb is 12 months is a good lifespan but if someone comes in in 6 months and they’ve run them into the ground, well they’ve had a good life. If someone comes in in a year and a half, the shoes are hardly used and the sole has come off than naturally we’re gonna get the dodgy one’s out of sight as soon as possible and give them a new pair.

In this day and age customers can buy what you’re selling anywhere so you better look after them or they’re gonna go somewhere else.

There’s a figure floating around retail that if you can turn a bad customer experience into a good one that same customer will return that back to you 6 times over.

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#16

Yep around $80. I bought these pedals as they are serviceable, yet they lasted as long as the $20 sets of plastic non-serviceable flat pedals that I’ve rolled with in the past. Why would a manufacturer design their product to be serviceable if the main body of the product was likely to fail long before any of the moving parts were even at the point of requiring servicing? The analogy of the engine failing doesn’t hold here because it wasn’t a moving servicable part that failed. To make the analogy you’d have to say that the doors fell off the car at around 50,000km.

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#17

Good work Dan.

As a note: Consumer law is Cth legislation - dont get stuck thinking anthing differs on account of jurisdiction.

I fkn love arguing about shit like this and the bigger the organisation the better… my last effort was with my telco over the grand total of $1.40. Totalling baited them in and made sure I seemed like enough of a pushover till I had someone with the word “manager” in their title. Then cranked things properly safe in the comfort that they’re charged a significant amount more once the ombudsman is involved and you’ve bee n dealing with senior staff

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#18

Yes, under the Australian Consumer Law the supplier generally has a choice of either giving you a replacement or a refund - more often than not choosing the replacement.

But you can demand a refund for a “major failure”, which is defined as - if, had you known the true nature of the thing you wouldn’t have purchased it, the thing isn’t actually what it was described to be, the thing is substantially unfit for its intended purpose, or if it is unsafe. Ultimately that’s pretty narrow - it wouldn’t cover broken pedals. But it may cover something like a dodgy “Just-Ride-It” tri-spoke that catastrophically fails because it is perhaps just outright fucking unsafe. So if something fails because of a design flaw then make sure they refund it.

For cycling gear reasonable use would actually be pretty easy to figure out. We all know how much shit is supposed to last, down to the 1000th-km. Something like a blender or a hairdryer is a bit harder, even a computer is harder. And Apple is definitely bad at this - in fact, their selling of extra 3-year warranties verges on close to unlawful misleading or deceptive conduct, because the statutory warranty would cover close to everything you’d pay for (although they sell it with after-hours phone help etc).

Also, if all else fails, don’t hesitate to lodge a claim at VCAT (for Victorians at least, other states have similar tribunals). Pretty sure it’s only about $20 to lodge and it’s very consumer friendly.

Obviously ya’ll have problems with Wiggle, CRC etc.

And good thread by the way - this shit should be stickied.

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#19

Strictly not accurate. In Victoria you’d actually be seeking a remedy under Victorian law a lot of the time. Yes, the Australian Consumer Law is enacted as a part of Commonwealth law but because of the limited power of the Commonwealth under the Constitution each of the States enacted the exact same law so that it applies a bit wider than what the Commonwealth could have done alone, and uniformly across Australia. But also, State tribunals like VCAT can’t determine a claim under Commonwealth law (at least, judicially), so having a State equivalent law opens up more avenues to seek redress, and State fair trading offices can administer it. So yeah, no difference between jurisdictions, and it’s all called the Australian Consumer law, but not strictly Commonwealth.

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#20

Agreed. And done.

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