Aussie consumer rights regulator throws the book at Fisher and Paykel Appliances

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed proceedings against Haier-owned Fisher & Paykel Appliances over the marketing of the whiteware maker's extended warranty.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed proceedings against Haier-owned Fisher & Paykel Appliances over the marketing of the whiteware maker's extended warranty.

Australia's competition watchdog claims F&P Appliances subsidiary Fisher & Paykel Customer Services and UK warranty provider Domestic & General Services made false or misleading representations about customer rights under the statutory guarantee scheme in marketing an extended warranty, the ACCC said in a statement.

The regulator alleges F&P and/or Domestic & General sent letters to people who had bought an appliance inviting them to buy an extended warranty, which made false claims about consumer rights, such as a customer wouldn't be protected against repair costs outside the manufacturer's warranty unless they bought the extended version.

"This is an important case for the ACCC as the allegations involve false or misleading representations by businesses about consumers' statutory rights in the context of offering extended warranties," chairman Rod Sims said.

"Businesses should exercise caution when offering extended warranties to consumers, and must avoid misrepresenting or understating consumers' statutory rights under the Australian Consumer Law guarantees," he said.

The regulator is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, injunctions, orders for compliance programmes, and costs, it said. The proceedings also involve alternative allegations under consumer protection provisions of the Australian Securities Investment Commission Act on the basis the extended warranty may constitute a financial product.

China's Haier took control of F&P Appliances last year after first buying into the manufacturer in 2009 when the Auckland company was forced to strengthen its balance sheet to keep creditors at bay.

(BusinessDesk)