Warranty and Guarantee periods

June 15, 2018

Hire purchase is one of the most common means of attaining products in Fiji. More locals opt to buy items on hire purchase because they find the credit payment system convenient.

Loans are easily accessible, which allows consumers to buy products on hire purchase.

Some villagers travel hours to a nearby town or city to finalise hire purchase agreements in the bid to give their homes a more modern feel. In doing so, they, like many others, commit to a regular payment system which includes the value of the product with interest.

Those that fail to abide by the agreement either end up having the items repossessed or risk their names being submitted to the Credit Reporting Information Agency (CIRA) once it is established.

This will give them a bad credit record and possibly hinder their chances of attaining other items or even taking loans. There are some critical shortfalls on the part of traders, however, that need to be remedied.

For every item purchased whether on cash or credit, the trader must indicate if the item has a warranty or guarantee period.

This mostly applies to electronics. Warranty is issued to the purchaser of a product by the manufacturer. It is a promise by the manufacturer to repair or replace it if necessary within a specified period of time.

A guarantee, on the other hand is, a written promise or assurance, that a product is of specified quality, content, benefit, etc., or that it will perform satisfactorily for a given length of time.

It is an assurance of the quality of or of the length of use to be expected from a product offered for sale. In Fiji, there are many occasions where traders decrease the warranty period from that specified by the manufacturer.

In fact some traders replace the manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee card by their own. Other shortfalls by traders include failure to provide redress during the warranty or guarantee periods.

Numerous cases have been recorded by the Council where traders have immediately refused to provide any redress.

Sometimes it is found that the product is not genuine or that spare parts are not available to fix the items. Other times traders ask consumers to pay for the parts that are needed for repairs on the basis that the part was not covered under warranty.

There are also cases where takes traders took 6 months to two years to fix the product.

The Council has also recorded cases, particularly, in Labasa where traders fail to provide a written warranty. Instead, they provide a verbal warranty period of seven days. Some have sold items under a no warranty basis.

Such was the case of a complainant who purchased a chainsaw worth $290 from a hardware store in Labasa. Only after a day’s use, the chainsaw started malfunctioning.

The complainant then visited the hardware store to inform them that the product had malfunctioned and was in need of repairs. The complainant was refused redress because of the “no warranty” provision stated on the receipt. The complainant then sought the Council’s assistance.

Due to the unfair terms stated in the receipt, the complainant was able to get the chainsaw repaired free of charge.

The Council urges consumers to always inquire about the provisions for which the item is covered under warranty and guarantee. Notices have been provided to traders by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission on the need to pass down the warranty and guarantee benefits indicated by the manufacturer to the consumer.

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.

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

Traders cannot reduce the manufacturer’s warranty if the manufacturer is offering a specified warranty period. These acts are deemed a contravention of the Fijian

Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010.Consumers with questions or complaints can seek the Council’s assistance by calling our toll free helpline number 155 or email us on complaints@consumersfiji.org.

*Please be advised that the Consumer Council of Fiji will be moving to its new office at Level 5, Vanua House, Victoria Parade, Suva, on 28 May.