What are consumer rights?
Every time you pay for something, whether it's a product, like a video game or an item of clothing, or a service, like a mobile phone contract or a lease on a house, you are entering into a legal contract.
That means that you have rights when it comes to those products and services. These rights are upheld by law and are known as consumer rights.
Consumer rights and who to complain to
The Victorian Fair Trading Act is the consumer rights legislation for Victoria. Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) (new window) is the official body that looks after all Victorian consumers and makes sure that their rights are protected. If you have any consumer-related problems, the CAV is a great place to start.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) (new window) has information about shopping, banking, buying a car or bike, internet service providers and what to do if you want to make a complaint.
Buying a car
Finding the right car at the right price isn't impossible. All you have to do is be aware of the common mistakes that people make and the traps they fall into when they're buying a car. CAV has a good starter page on buying a car that looks at used cars (new window), new cars (new window), the cost of repairs (new window), and taking out a loan (new window) so you can buy the car of your dreams.
One of the things that the law guarantees for all consumers is that when they go shopping, the things that they buy are safe to use. If products are found to be unsafe they are recalled. Product Recalls Australia (new window) has an up-to-date listing of all products - food, medicinal, automotive, consumer and agricultural products - that have been recalled.
If something unfair does happen with the products you've bought, the ACCC has advice on making a complaint (new window).
These days you can buy lots of things using the internet. The trick is doing it without getting ripped off. Emailing your credit card number can be risky business, unless you know how to make sure that the online shop, or e-commerce site, that you are using, is secure. The ACCC has excellent online shopping information (new window) to help you shop safely on the internet.
For more information check out our page on shopping and your rights.
One of the most common contracts around these days is the mobile phone contract. When you own a mobile phone you have certain responsibilities to the service provider, and the service provider also has responsibilities towards you.
Money stuff (new window) has an overview of what sort of things you should think about before you get yourself a mobile.
Renting a house
If you're renting a house there is a whole range of things that your landlord is required by law to provide. Not all landlords do provide everything they have to - if you think there's a problem you should contact the Tenants Union of Victoria (new window) for advice. Also check out our Tenants rights page in this section.
There are heaps of scams out there - schemes designed by people to take your money and give you nothing or next to nothing in return. CAV provides information on consumer scams (new window) how to avoid them.
The Australian Government maintains ScamWatch (new window), a comprehensive website with information about all kinds of scams.
Consumer Affairs Victoria
The place to go for information about consumer rights, or to find out who to complain to.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
The national body concerned with ensuring that consumer rights are upheld.
ACCC - Online Shopping
A clear guide to shopping safely on the internet.
Product Recalls Australia
An up-to-date list of recalled products across Australia.