Consumer rights

‘Expiration’ Date Labels Needed to Guide Australians in Purchases of White Goods and Electronics, Report Says | Australia News

Home appliances and electronics must be clearly labeled with repair information and “expiration” dates, according to a new report from the Productivity Commission.

The Right to Repair Commission report found that the labeling system should be tested in Australia.

The commission spent the last year examining Australia’s so-called “right to redress” and received over 300 submissions and comments. Many consumers complained that companies made it harder and more expensive for devices to be repaired by someone other than the manufacturer, and that devices last less than expected.

The most common problems with phones, for example, are broken screens or the need to replace the battery. Increasingly, the committee has heard that companies like Apple and Samsung are making it more difficult for consumers to repair the product themselves – or have the repairs done by someone other than the manufacturer.

The final report, released on Wednesday, found that price was the biggest factor in people deciding whether to repair or replace a broken product. The downside of having a product repaired, and people wanting the most up-to-date device, were the main reasons people didn’t do the repairs.

The commission found that there was “mixed” evidence as to whether the lifespan of products was being shortened in order to encourage people to buy newer devices, stating that while this could not be completely ruled out, it was not. was probably not widespread. People were much more likely to choose to replace their own devices with newer products, and in some cases the products were becoming more durable.

The Australian government is expected to test a product labeling system within five years for products such as home appliances or consumer electronics, where people can see information about a product’s repairability and durability, recommended the commission. If the pilot is effective, it could be extended to a formal program.

The commission also recommended that warranty rules be amended to state that the right of recourse under consumer law does not require consumers to have previously used authorized repair services or spare parts.

While noting that current Australian Consumer Law gives people the right to obtain repairs or replacements for defective products, the committee recommended changes, including requiring manufacturers to provide updates. software for reasonable periods of time, in order to allow consumer groups to collect routine complaints about certain products for filing. as a “super complaint” for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation.

The commission recommended that state and territory governments find alternative dispute resolution methods for people with redress issues, to prevent cases from ending up in court, and that ACCC be empowered. to seek sanctions when suppliers fail to provide a remedy when necessary.

The report’s recommendations are largely identical to the recommendations in the draft released in June. However, the commission moved away from a recommended ban on warranty void clauses or stickers affixed to products that void the warranty in the event of breakage, arguing that such a ban could increase costs for manufacturers. and consumers.

Since the publication of the draft report, Apple has announced that it will provide spare batteries, displays, and camera parts for iPhones 12 and 13 to allow people to repair their own iPhones.