A consumer is a person who buys a product or service for their use. There are a wide range of consumer issues that someone may need help with. Some of these are divided below into sub categories to help you understand your rights and who you can go to for help.
General Consumer Rights
Under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, products and services come with automatic. General protections include:
- A general ban on misleading and deceptive conduct in trade or commerce
- A general ban on conduct done against good conscience in trade or commerce and specific bans on unconscionable conduct is consumer and some business transactions
- A provision that makes unfair contract terms in consumer contracts void
Under Australian Consumer law, you have the right to:
- Ask for a repair, replacement of refund if a product or service you buy fails to meet a consumer guarantee
- Cancel a service if you have a major problem or a minor problem that can’t be fixed within a reasonable time frame
- Seek compensation for damages and losses you suffer due to a problem with a product or service if the supplier could have reasonably foreseen the problem
For more infomration you can contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission:
Phone: 1300 302 502
Gas, Electricity or Water Customers
Utilities providers must send you a Customer Charter that explains your rights and responsibilities. These include letting them read the meter so that they can bill you correctly, and letting them know if you can’t pay a bill. They then have to offer you a way to pay off your bill, and they have to give you time to pay before they can disconnect you.
As a gas and/or electricity customer, you are entitled to have access to concessions and rebates for eligible low-income households and vulnerable energy customers.
You have the right to:
- Apply for and not be refused a reasonable repayment arrangement if you’re struggling to pay your bills
- Notice before disconnection
- Access to free external dispute resolution (in most cases)
If a door-to-door representative persuaded you to sign a gas, electricity or water contract in your home, you may be able to cancel the contract:
- During the 10-day “cooling off” period that applies for all contracts entered into in a home, or
- If you’ve been misled by a high-pressure sales pitch that’s not true or they’ve falsely claimed the service would save you money. Remember to include cancellation fees from your old service provider when assessing a ‘discount’.
If the service provider refuses to cancel the service, contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Phone: 1800 662 837
Telemarketers & Door to Door Customers
You have a right to not be called if you dont want to be. The Australian Government have a Do Not Call Register. The Do Not Call Register is a database where you can register your telephone, mobile and fax numbers to opt out of receiving most telemarketing calls and faxes. Registration is free and the number/s registered will stay on the register indefinitely unless you or a representative removes them.
Phone: 1300 792 958
Telemarketers must also deal with you in particular ways. For example, they must only call you between certain hours, they must let you know that you have a ‘10-day cooling off period’ if you buy something, and they must send you the agreement in writing. These rules also apply to energy companies that use telemarketing. You can find out more about telemarketers’ from Fair Trading, contact details below.