Australia’s top consumer advocate body has accused three major retailers of misleading customers about their rights to a refund, replacement or repair.

Choice undertook a “mystery shop” of 80 Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys stores across Australia ahead of the upcoming Black Friday sales.

They found that 71 per cent of stores provided misleading information on a consumer’s rights if their product broke beyond the warranty period.

Choice editorial director Marg Rafferty. (Choice)

And 91 per cent reportedly tried to sell poor-value extended warranties that often don’t provide much more cover than is guaranteed under Australian consumer law.

“We were shocked by the results of our mystery shop of Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys,” Choice editorial director Marg Rafferty said.

“Consumer guarantees mean retailers must help customers if a product breaks within a reasonable period of time – even if the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

Shoppers should be aware of their rights, Choice said. (AAP)

“When we asked about consumer rights outside the manufacturer’s warranty period, stores tried to sell us extended warranties, which are not much more than a sneaky sales tactic designed to squeeze more money from concerned customers.”

While it is illegal for retailers to breach consumer guarantees, currently there are no fines for breaking this law.

“Without fines for doing the wrong thing, too many businesses are getting away with telling consumers they’ll be denied their right to a repair, replacement or refund when something goes wrong with a product or service,” Rafferty said.

A pocket watch frozen in time at the moment its owner sank with the Titanic has been sold for $175,000. The watch belonged to postal clerk Oscar Scott Woody and was recovered from the  chilly depths of the Atlantic Ocean, the BBC reports.

Frozen in time: Pocket watch from Titanic sells for $175k

JB Hi-Fi chose not to comment on the report when contacted by

Harvey Norman and The Good Guys have also been contacted for a response.

Choice’s top tips for Black Friday shoppers

  • Consumer guarantees mean your product should last for a reasonable period and if it doesn’t, you’ll be entitled to either a replacement, repair or refund.
  • The retailer is obliged to help you if a product you purchased from them becomes faulty within a reasonable period of time – they can’t just fob you off to the manufacturer.
  • Consider if you’re actually getting any bang for your buck with extended warranties. Most extended warranties are poor value, and you’re better off using your existing consumer rights.

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