Netgear ‘misled’ customers over warranty claims

Network equipment manufacturer Netgear has found itself in hot water with the consumer watchdog for allegedly misleading customers over its warranty and technical support representations.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says Netgear incorrectly told customers they could not receive a remedy for a faulty product unless they were covered by its manufacturer’s warranty, or they purchased a technical support contract.

Netgear has been ordered to refund customers affected.

“Netgear admits that it is likely to have misled customers about the remedies they were legally entitled to under the Australian Consumer Law,” said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court. “If a product fails to meet a consumer guarantee, consumers have the right to ask the supplier for a repair, replacement or refund, and the supplier or manufacturer for compensation.

“Consumer law rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified. Warranties and technical support contracts operate in addition to consumer guarantees, not instead of these statutory guarantees.”

In an undertaking accepted by the ACCC, Netgear has committed to review its technical support contracts purchased since July 2016 and, where the Netgear product has had a failure and the consumer would have been entitled to a remedy under the Consumer Law, to provide that remedy as well as a full refund of the price of the technical support contract. Netgear has also agreed to establish an Australian Consumer Rights webpage on its website.

In addition, Netgear has agreed to update its policies and procedures to ensure clear consideration of Australian consumer rights under the statutory consumer guarantees regime.

Other dodgy warranty claims

The ACCC’s action against Netgear follows a case from December last year when another electronics manufacturer, Belkin, was called out for its dodgy lifetime warranty claims.

In this case, Belkin was found to have applied a policy of only repairing or replacing products within five years of purchase, with no disclaimer printed on product packaging – only on its website.

Belkin was ordered to honour its lifetime warranty claims.

Products affected by these lifetime warranty claims included wireless routers, switches and cables.

“Belkin has acknowledged that its lifetime warranty representations may have breached the Australian Consumer Law, which prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct and false or misleading representations about the effect of a warranty or guarantee,” Ms Court said at the time.

“Manufacturers must ensure consumers are not misled by warranty representations. If a business makes a lifetime warranty claim, they must be very clear about what this means with their customers.”

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