CHOICE membership

Right to Repair - Productivity Commission Inquiry

I’d like to bring to the community’s attention a Fair Trading NSW matter I have underway against Vileda. I bought a SpinMop set for about $55. Within 3 months the mop pole broke. I contacted Vileda to ask where I could buy a replacement. Their response: “no replacements are available, you will have to buy a whole new set” (for $55).

I wrote to Vileda and explained that under s 58 of the Australian Consumer Law they MUST provide replacement parts. They wrote back to say they will not. Vileda is owned by a German Co.: Freudenberg GmBH which either don’t know what their duties are under Australian law, or don’t care. This was the response from Vileda:

“Our representative provided you with the correct information. We do not sell spare parts of our mop system separately as they are only sold as a complete unit, only the refills are sold separately.”

I have reported Vileda’s refusal to comply with the law to Fair Trading NSW and Choice. Don’t support a company that will rip you off and refuse to obey the law.

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Welcome to the Community @andys8989

You might best craft a ‘Letter of Complaint’ to the shop manager where you originally bought the mop. If you can establish it should have lasted longer, or no parts available, or any justifiable grounds, you could ask for a remedy of a new replacement mop.

The retailer from which you purchased your mop cannot legally fob you off to Vileda and has ‘ownership’ of the problem. You can find lots of information on your rights and the process using the Community search tool, including the fines levied on multiple Harvey Norman franchises for misrepresentation of same.

Please let us know how you go.

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Another option is take it back to where you bought it, say you would like a refund as it is a major fault under the Australian Consumer Law. Buy an alternative non-Vileda product.

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Thanks Phil. So is Woolworths also responsible for providing spare parts?

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A few thoughts:
Buyer point-of-sale info is good, but new products are pouring out constantly. Who does the assessments? How can it very quickly get attached to the products? My though is that Consumer Org needs to support “Tear-Downs”. Youtube is full of them. Experts acquire new products and immediately pull them apart to test for repairablity, component strength and quality, design or assembly shortcuts that obstruct or prevent repairs, and just the all-round shoddiness (or otherwise) of the item in question. controls & Interface-logic should also be explored. Of special note to me is the ‘handedness’ of the product. Too many things are actually unsafe for left-handers to use (eg: biased location of power-tool safety-switches, and thin-sided oven gloves (YES! They do!))
So who does the tear-downs? Who pays? Who collates? Etc, And who funds?

  1. “Life-hacks”. I’ve pulled apart and cleaned many cooling fans, usually doubling their lifespans by simply cleaning the crud out of the bearings. Few people know this. Any handy-person can do it. WHAT IS NEEDED is a ‘user manual’ of simple life-hacks to extend product life - and a network of qualified tradies willing to do these simple services (Because regulations - which I ignore.)

3). A rapid-response service via internet, for early warning on products that give trouble - so that the info (confirmed by professional tear-downs) is quickly and widely diseminated to the wider public.
An example is the dreadful tale of the Bunnings Ozito garden shredder [*], where a widespread warning would have saved consummers a lot of $$ and trouble.
That’s all for now,
Gedbury
[ * I’ve done the teardown. Anyone interested, I’ll forward you my document.]

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No, they are responsible for ‘making you whole’, eg resolving your consumer rights regarding a product they sell. As with manufacturers, if your rights have not been properly upheld remedies can be, case by case dependent on the circumstance and product detail, a repair, replacement, or refund.

Your Woolies manager may initially struggle with the concept, or be quite familiar with it, but s/he ‘owns’ it. Whether your rights under the ACL have been violated is for you to document and establish, not a given. If you can document Vileda has not complied with the ACL regarding parts a replacement or refund may be in order.

The crux of the issue will be how long a $55 mop should last in any case vs how long it did last, considering its claimed quality, price, and market position from advertising, labelling, web site information and so on.

Sometimes a polite conversation and request gets a resolution, and other times presenting a formal letter of complaint is required, and sometimes taking it higher than a local manager.

Search the Community for more explicit guidance.

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We have generally found Woollies (number of different stores in Qld and Tas) good when returning items. As long as one is polite and clearly explains what the problem is, a refund is usually given promptly. One can then chose to repurchase the same item or an alternative.

Providing you didn’t damage the mop from misuse, I would take the mop back to the Woollies customer desk, along with proof of purchase, and ask for a refund. Say you have spoken to the manufacturer and they don’t offer spare parts for defects or manufacturing faults.

A reasonable person would expect a $55 mop to last a lot longer than a few months.

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Welcome to the Community

I encourage you to read more about the CHOICE thrust to get meaningful Right to Repair at https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/consumer-rights-and-advice/your-rights/articles/stronger-protections-and-repair-rights-for-household-products and here on the site at Can we fix it? Building a meaningful right to repair for Australia. Also I encourage you to add any other of your thoughts to the call either here at the topics or by providing a submission or experience to Erin Turner at community@choice.com.au (marked in the subject line with Attention: Erin Turner).

My favourite goto for repairing items is iFixit (https://www.ifixit.com/), it may also provide you with some great ideas and tips.

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This hasn’t been done to us by subterfuge - we’ve largely brought it on ourselves. Despite living in the richest country on Earth, each of us claims to be poor. As a result, Bunnings, Coles, and Woolworths have thrived, particularly in the last 20 or 30 years.

We’d rather buy 10 “bargain” toasters for $15 each over 10 years, than one $100 toaster.

The catch is when the $100 toaster lasts as long as a $10 toaster, which is what currently happens in the absence of the consumer’s ability to judge quality and durability.

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@allant started a topic on batteries, so rather than replicating his point here for @ErinTurner, a link to his main topic.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Smart Watch Battery replacement

Welcome and thanks for the great thoughts @Gedbury. We’ve also been thinking a lot about the value of tear-downs as part of any scheme that would rank and rate product durability and repairability. We’ve made the argument to the Productivity Commission to set up a system similar to the Water and Energy Labelling Scheme (WELS) that could include a tear-down assessment.
Your point about “handedness” isn’t something that’s been part of our thinking to-date (and it should be - it’s a great point! Absolute right-handed blind spot from me on this).

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Really interesting - thanks @allant - watch issues have come up a few times in the Productivity Commission inquiry. This case shows why!

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Hi @ErinTurner, I believe the inquiry is closed but I am working on contacting the Productivity Commission with an evidential example just in case. Edit: The PC advised the report has gone to government so they cannot accept additional submissions.

The history is a KWC Ono mixer that has a veg spray. The mixer was expensive. The spray part has exhibited the same operational problem leading to the same failure at similar intervals of about 2 years. In 9 years; I am on the 4th spray part that is now failing to operate properly.

Disassembling one reveals the wear parts are 4 O-rings and potentially a spring. It seems a ‘simple device’ yet is ‘not repairable’ by definition. For clarity all I asked for the last 2 failures were the specs for the O-rings… The importer, PR Kitchens cannot/will not provide repair instructions or the specification for the O-rings. While under warranty the part is routinely replaced. Post warranty the spray part is offered for $468+ shipping.

PRK seems aware the retailer owns ‘the bag’ under the ACL, and as far as they are concerned Consumer Affairs Victoria is less threatening than a miniature Chihuahua. Reviewing Consumer Affairs web site seems to confirm that is going to be the case if it comes to that, but that is another matter. It appears the Right to Repair and the reality of how companies can respond or decline to respond to the ACL could make a Right to Repair outcome for consumers less likely if there is a similarity. As with the ACL itself, companies that are willing to do step up, and those that are not willing do not step up, and do not need to pending the consumer achieving a successful litigation/tribunal determination.

Edit:The retailer is on the case and doing the right thing!

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The Productivity Commission released it’s Right to Repair report today, and CHOICE is supporting the recommendations and will be urging the government to adopt them. One of the recommendations is for a ‘durability’ label, which would give an indication of how long products should be expected to last.

We know from previous surveys that the idea of system to show product durability at point of sale is popular (receiving an 88% support rate). We’re interested to hear people’s responses to the report, along with the idea of a durability label, please add your thoughts to this thread.

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I like the idea of a repairability label or information. If this was available, it would definitely be used in purchase decisions.

With many new products containing many parts, including electronics and batteries, it would be good to know what things can easily be replaced with spare parts. The only challenge may being able to find replacement parts, but, if there is an increased spare parts market created by consumers knowledge of things that can be repaired, it might stimulate a wider market for spare parts.

List of replaceable parts could easily be included in user guides, with labelling indicating what key parts are repairable.

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If this comes about it will be interesting to see for what classes of products (if any) it is made compulsory and for the products that have the label how the expected life compares to the makers’ warranty period.

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How to shortcut the task given the length of both the ‘Overview and Recommendations’ (43 pages), and ‘Enquiry Report’ (approx 400 pages). I’m assuming you read the appendices, reference lists etc in full.

Page 2 of the overview and Recommendations summarises all to a one page box of key points. For those more motivated and time poor skipping to numbered page 29 will save. It lists the key findings and recommendations. Eleven pages in all.

The terms of reference from the Treasurer can be found in the intro to the full report.

It’s great that the report recognises there are numerous opportunities for improvement. Implementation of the actions recommended requires government support or actions to have any effect.

Considering the 7 product failures we’ve needed to act on over the previous 12 months, all but one would have benefitted from delivery of the recommendations of the report. (3 vehicle related, DW, AC, espresso machine, Fitbit)

Whether some of the recommended actions improve consumer outcomes or drive products from our market place is open to further discussion?

Australia is too small a market to drive or influence on it’s own change. The report makes reference to the evolving requirements of the EU and others. It would have been reassuring to see a recommendation to keep up with international actions. If for no other reason than to avert Australia becoming the backwater and dumping ground for yesterday’s unwanted products.

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On one hand that is an astute observation, on another international regulations are routinely watered down to suit producers/businesses/manufacturers. Someone has to take a lead but pity it might not be one of the biggest economic players having serious clout.

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“Regulator powers to enforce consumer guarantees” are already in place, but rarely used and they certainly aren’t enforced to help individual consumers.

“States and Territories use of alternative dispute resolution options to better resolve complaints”. Can the Commonwealth really stop States and Territories from just acting as post-boxes?

It is a start, but nothing really addresses the imbalance of power, and it will likely be left to individual consumers to battle it out.

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