Fitbit Cops $11 Million Fine for ‘Misleading’ Australians

Fitbit Cops $11 Million Fine for ‘Misleading’ Australians

The ACCC’s case against Fitbit in Australia (which we initially reported on here) has led to to the Google-owned wearables maker being fined $11 million dollars by the Federal court.

Specifically, Fitbit told 40 consumers in Australia over a period between November 2020 and February 2022 that they were not entitled to a replacement product because their “warranty period” had expired.

In many of the cases cited by the ACCC, consumers who had been issued a replacement products due to faults were told that the replacements would not be covered under warranty when they became faulty, stating that “Your device does not meet the requirements for a replacement…. based… on the original purchase date.”

For one consumer, the issue was that Fitbit stated to a customer that in order to be eligible for a refund, they would have to have returned the product within 45 days of purchase.

“In this case, consumers may have incurred additional expense and inconvenience paying for repairs or replacement products because they were told false and misleading information about their consumer guarantee rights,” Acting ACCC Chair Catriona Lowe said.

“All products sold to consumers come with a guarantee that goods are of acceptable quality, and retailers must provide a remedy for faulty goods if this guarantee has not been met, which includes repair, replacement or refund, depending on the circumstances.”

What did Fitbit do wrong? Aren’t warranties final?

The issue here isn’t specifically one of the length of Fitbit’s warranty per se, but instead the way that it had misrepresented the rights that Australians have for any purchase under Australian Consumer Law.

Manufacturers can create their own warranties, but they must not remove or restrict the rights already held under Australian Consumer Law, which broadly states that goods sold must be fit for purpose and durable for a “reasonable” period of time.

I wrote an explainer on this that goes into a little more detail when discussing the upcoming JB Hi-Fi extended warranties case, which you can read here.

Just because you’re told by staff – whether through online communications, over the phone or in a store – that a warranty has expired, it does not automatically mean that your product may not be covered by the Australian Consumer Law instead.

It’s not carte blanche to say that every product should survive forever, but instead a protection built into law to ensure that consumers get fair value for the money they spend on any kind of product.

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