ACCC appeals court decision to dismiss case against LG

The competition watchdog has appealed the court's decision to dismiss its case against LG for allegedly misleading consumers about their rights in relation to faulty LG TVs.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has appealed the Federal Court's decision to dismiss the legal proceedings it brought forth against LG Electronics Australia in 2015.

The ACCC had alleged that the South Korean electronics company made false or misleading representations to consumers about their rights in relation to faulty LG products, including TVs.

The competition watchdog claimed that LG told customers that if a defect occurred on one of its TVs after warranty had expired, customers would only be entitled to a remedy if they paid for the cost of assessment.

Additionally, the ACCC said the consumer was only entitled to have the TV repaired -- not to a refund or replacement -- and that the consumer was liable for the labour costs of the repair.

Under Australian Consumer Law, customers have a guarantee of acceptable quality beyond a manufacturer's warranty, and may still be entitled to a repair, refund, or replacement upon expiration.

However, on September 1, 2017, Justice Middleton dismissed the ACCC's allegations, concluding that LG was under no obligation to inform consumers of the existence of the Australian Consumer Law remedies available to them because the enquiry made by consumers related only to the manufacturer's warranty.

"The ACCC has appealed this decision in order to seek clarity from the Full Federal Court. In particular, this appeal is about the extent to which manufacturers should inform people seeking a remedy for a faulty product about their consumer guarantee rights," ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said in a statement on Monday.

"Products and services come with consumer guarantees which may provide remedies over and above those in any manufacturer's warranty. The ACCC will take appropriate action to ensure that consumers are not misled about their consumer guarantee rights."

The competition watchdog had previously brought legal action against LG for misleading or deceptive conduct in 2005, 2006, and 2010.

In 2006, LG was found to have been in breach of the consumer protection provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 after the Federal Court ruled that the electronics giant made false or misleading representations in several of its online mobile telephone user manuals.

At the time, the ACCC warned LG against making misleading statements surrounding warranty and the rights of consumers in the future.

Additionally, the court ordered LG to refrain from making representations to similar effect in the future; implement an upgraded trade practices compliance program; arrange the publication of consumer notices on its website and in all major Australian newspapers; provide each of its mobile telephone retailers with a notice explaining the relevant provisions of the Act; and pay the ACCC's costs.

In 2012, LG, along with Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, and Sharp, were warned by the ACCC for using the term "Wi-Fi ready" or "Wireless LAN ready" too loosely, and were made to amend their promotional and marketing material.