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ACCC takes HP to the Federal Court

Alleges misleading and deceptive conduct

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken legal action in the Federal Court against Hewlett-Packard Australia Pty Ltd (HP) for alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACCC alleges that the wholly owned subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard Company engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by:

  • Making false or misleading representations to consumers in relation to consumers' statutory warranty and consumer guarantee rights.
  • Making false or misleading representations to retailers that HP was not liable to indemnify them if they provided consumers with a refund or replacement without HP's prior authorisation.

The Australian Consumer Law provides consumers with rights to certain remedies from retailers and manufacturers, when goods fail to comply with the consumer guarantee provisions of the ACL, including that the goods are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold.

That is, if a good is not, for example, of acceptable quality consumers may be entitled to a refund or a replacement item. These rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.

The ACCC also alleges that HP, contrary to these rights, represented to consumers that:

  • The remedies available for a faulty HP product were limited to remedies available from HP at its sole discretion.
  • Consumers must have had a faulty HP product repaired multiple times by HP before they were entitled to receive a replacement.
  • The warranty period for HP products was limited to a specified express warranty period.
  • Following the expiration of an express warranty period, HP would repair faulty HP products on the condition that consumers pay for such repairs.
  • Consumers could not return or exchange HP products purchased from the HP Online Store, unless otherwise agreed by HP at its sole discretion.

The ACCC is seeking a variety of court orders including: Declarations, injunctions, civil pecuniary penalties, disclosure orders, adverse publicity orders, non-party redress for consumers affected by HP's conduct, the implementation of a compliance program, and costs.

The matter is set down for a scheduling conference on December 7.

More to follow.

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