Online Sales and Australian Consumer Guarantees

Online Sales and Australian Consumer Guarantees

Written by Eugene Reinboth

The High Court recently rejected an appeal by Valve, a US-based company involved in online sales of computer games in Australia. Valve were appealing a three million dollar penalty for non-compliance with the Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”). Despite Valve only having an online presence and no retail outlets in Australia, the critical issue was that sales were to Australian consumers. Valve incurred a $3 million penalty for non-compliance.

Your rights as an Australian consumer as protected by the ACL. The ACCC provides this summary of the ACL, which since 2011 has ensured consumer guarantees on products and services.


Products must be of acceptable quality, which factors in what would normally be expected for the type of product at its cost. For products to be of acceptable quality, they must:

  • Be safe, lasting, and with no faults.
  • Look acceptable
  • Do all the things you would normally expect them to do.

Products must also:

  • Match descriptions made by the salesperson on packaging, labels, and in promotions or advertising.
  • Match any demonstration model or sample you asked for.
  • Be fit for the purpose the business told you it would be fit for, and for any purpose that you made known to the business before purchasing.
  • Come with full title and ownership.
  • Not carry any hidden debts or extra charges.
  • Come with “undisturbed possession” (no one has the right to take the goods away or prevent you from using them).
  • Meet any extra promises made about performance, condition and quality, such as life time guarantees or money-back offers.
  • Have spare parts and repair facilities available for a reasonable time after purchase (unless you were told otherwise).


Consumer guarantees on services ensure that they must:

  • Provide acceptable care, skill, and technical knowledge.
  • Take all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage.
  • Be fit for the purpose or give the results that you and the business had agreed.
  • Be delivered within a reasonable time (when there is no agreed end date).

Your Protection

As a consumer, you may always claim a remedy from the retailer of goods or services. The retailer cannot refuse to help by sending you to the manufacturer or importer – though you may claim remedy directly if certain conditions are met.

Be aware, as Valve no doubt is now, that consumer guarantees also apply to bundled products and services, gifts with proof of purchase, sale items, second-hand products (taking into account age and condition), and online products and services.

If you are involved in online sales and need advice, contact Belperio Clark on 8212 1322

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