MyShopRights Launched Today

MyShopRights Launched Today

Victoria Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien

Consumer Affairs Minister Launches Vital Consumer Tool

Victor P Taffa

Do you know your rights in the New Year’s Sales?

Download MyShopRights today, a free iPhone app, which provides instant advice while you’re out shopping these holidays.

Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien has launched Consumer Affairs Victoria’s free app today, to help shoppers better exercise their rights and resolve disputes when new laws come into force across the country on January 1, over refunds, warranties, defective goods, repairs, replacements and lay-bys.

MyShopRights also features tools to keep photos of receipts to show proof of purchase and streamline paperwork, as well as reminders of when lay-bys and payments are due or when gift vouchers expire.

 

The top five fair trading calls to Consumer Affairs Victoria reveal more than 28,000 consumers sought our help and advice over shopping disputes from January to the end of November 2010, including:

  • Refunds (5,995 enquiries, 2,022 complaints)
  • Defective goods (5,406 enquiries, 1,086 complaints)
  • Warranties and consumer guarantees (3,402 enquiries, 691 complaints)
  • Non/partial supply or delay in supply (2,364 enquiries, 1,111 complaints)
  • Unsatisfactory/non performance of service, repairs (1,418 enquiries, 571 complaints).

Most of these related to personal goods and services, such as clothing and apparel, and household goods and services, including electrical goods, whitegoods, furniture, furnishings and homewares.

“MyShopRights will help many Victorian shoppers, who may not be aware just how much bargaining power and protection they have when making a purchase.” Minister for Consumer Affairs Michael O’Brien said today.

“MyShopRights will give customers instant answers to frequently asked questions, providing a simple list of scenarios they may be facing and informing them about how to exercise their rights when approaching a trader for a refund, repair, replacement or other remedy.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“It’s often simple disputes over refunds, defective goods, warranties, repairs and poor performance that leave Victorian shoppers confused over what their rights are.”

Some of the scenarios covered when using MyShopRights include:

  • What happens if you want to cancel a lay-by?
  • What are your rights if your TV breaks down and it is outside of warranty?
  • What happens if you change your mind about a purchase?
  • Can you use an expired gift voucher?
  • What are your rights if you purchase an item from an outlet store?

Testing with consumers has revealed that many were pleasantly surprised to find that they had greater rights than they thought and felt the app increased their bargaining power.

Traders also responded positively to MyShopRights, saying they would be happy to accept a photograph of receipts and felt it would bring greater co-operation with consumers if things went wrong.

Choice Director of Campaigns, Christopher Zinn, says the independent consumer watchdog welcomes the introduction of the MyShopRights free iPhone app, to help consumers exercise their shopping rights, as well as educate traders about their responsibilities.

“It’s excellent to see that consumers will have additional bargaining power at the point of sale when trying to claim a refund, repair or replacement should a product or service fail to live up to its legal expectations.” Mr. Zinn said.

“Consumer protection agencies work hard to educate consumers and retailers about fair trading laws, but with new legislation coming in on January 1, we support any new tool or technology that can provide extra clarity about what just what protections there are against faulty, defective and poor quality products.”

MyShopRights has been launched in time to coincide with the introduction on 1 January of the landmark Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which delivers not only greater protection for consumers and greater ease of compliance for traders, but comes with tougher penalties for breaking the law.

“Under this ground-breaking law, businesses that trade across states and territories will no longer be required to know the intricacies of a raft of varied laws, making it easier for traders to comply and giving consumers greater clarity over their rights.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“The beauty of this iPhone app is that regardless of where you are in Australia, the same advice applies, so whether you’re trying to return a t-shirt to a major chain store in Prahran or dealing with a small electrical retailer in Sydney, through to an independent homewares store in Alice Springs, you can be certain about your entitlements.”

The ACL will promote best practice in business and sales practices by strengthening restrictions in areas that affect the way Victorians trade every day. The ACL:

  • Contains uniform laws over refunds, repairs and replacements regardless of where a product is purchased;
  • Creates consumer guarantees that automatically give certain protections against defects and about a product’s quality, description, repair and fitness for purpose – regardless of any other warranty, or whether the product was supplied by a manufacturer, importer or retailer;
  • Prohibits unfair business practices, such as using fine print and disclaimers to try to mislead or deceive consumers, false testimonials, bait advertising, and silence about key information;
  • Imposes tighter restrictions on unsolicited sales, such as door-to-door and telemarketing sales, and introduces streamlined product safety regulations.