Beware of cheap goods with no warranty

September 10, 2018

Electronic goods and household items have over the years made family lives a whole lot easier in managing their household routines. Many consumers, to have a better life, have heavily invested in goods such as washing machines, cooking stoves, electrical kettles, refrigerators, solar system and so much more.

 Owning electronic goods or newly purchased household goods is a dream come true for most consumers. However, when these goods do not serve the purpose they were purchased for the dream turns into a nightmare. 

The Fijian market is swamped with cheap and counterfeit products that give Fijian consumers the impression that they will last long. In the absence of adequate regulations to ensure products sold in the local marketplace meet specified standards, the demand for these goods has increased. 

Unfortunately, consumers who spend their hard earned money on these goods have their hope short-lived when some of these products begin to malfunction and are not fit for its purpose shortly after purchasing. 

Product warranty also remains a vital issue, as some consumers are not aware of what the term warranty means. 

The Council has continued to receive complaints against traders who do not provide any warranty on goods they have sold to consumers. In these cases, the Council has found that clauses such as “No Warranty” and “Tested Ok” is clearly stated in receipts provided to consumers. 

In a snap survey conducted this year to gauge the market practices in Labasa in terms of products retailed and warranty provided, the Council found that there were at least four traders some with two to three branches that were selling white and household goods under no warranty at all. Consumers were, however, verbally advised that if the product were to malfunction within 7 days from purchase then redress could be provided. 

Traders were unwilling to repair faulty products after 7 days basically because they did not have the required spare parts. In other cases, the trader would have the part but the consumer would have to pay for the replacement of this part on the default good they purchased. 

The warranty was not provided to consumers because the traders claimed they were not provided any from the suppliers.

In one case reported to the Council, Victoria purchased a chainsaw from a hardware retailer but after only a day’s use, the chainsaw started malfunctioning. 

She intended to get the chainsaw replaced but the trader refused redress due to the “No Warranty” provision stated on her receipt.  She then sought the Council’s assistance. The Council intervened and Ms. Bai’s chainsaw was repaired free of charge. Due to the unfair term stated in the receipt, Ms. Bai was able to get the chainsaw repaired free of charge. 

Businesses are urged to comply with the manufacturer’s warranty and provide obligatory redress if the case warrants.  They should not subject consumers to illegal, unethical or deceptive practices. 

The Council wishes to advise consumers that they need to exercise their consumer rights. They must ensure that they understand the terms and conditions that come with the products.

Traders must provide complete and accurate information regarding the goods and services, terms, conditions, applicable fee and total cost to enable consumers to make informed decisions. 

Finally Consumers opting for cheap products fail to realise that they end up paying more money for the cost of repairs or spare parts. Money is wasted on cheap products that are not merchantable and without proper warranties provided. The Council advises consumers to save up for quality products that have extended warranty periods, this will ensure that their hard earned cash is not wasted. 

Consumers can further lodge any consumer complaints they have by calling the National Consumer Helpline on Toll Free Number – 155.