The ACCC has instituted Federal Court proceedings against US-based Fitbit LLC for allegedly making false or misleading representations to consumers about their consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law after their Fitbit wearable devices malfunctioned.
It is alleged that between around May 2020 and February 2022, Fitbit made false or misleading representations to consumers claiming they would not be entitled to a refund unless they returned a faulty product within 45 days of purchase or shipment.
The ACCC also alleges that Fitbit conveyed to consumers who had been supplied with a faulty device as a replacement for an original faulty device, that they were not entitled to a second replacement device if Fitbit’s two-year ‘limited warranty period’ for the original device had expired.
“Fitbit has again come to the ACCC’s attention for allegedly misleading consumers about their consumer guarantee rights. We are taking this case against Fitbit because we consider the alleged conduct is serious and that manufacturers should have processes in place that ensure compliance with the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.
“Under the Australian Consumer Law, products must be of acceptable quality, and retailers must provide a remedy for faulty goods which include a repair, replacement or refund, depending on the circumstances.”
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“All consumers have these automatic consumer guarantee rights that cannot be excluded, restricted or modified. The consumer guarantee rights exist in addition to any warranties offered by manufacturers,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.
The ACCC’s case includes 58 examples of consumers who were allegedly misled by statements made by Fitbit’s customer service representatives when they complained about faulty devices.
In one case, a consumer complained to Fitbit about a faulty device which was a replacement for another device he had bought more than two years earlier. Fitbit agreed the replacement device was defective but allegedly informed the consumer he was not eligible for a further replacement because the ‘two-year warranty period’ of the original device had expired.
In another case, a consumer experiencing technical issues with his Fitbit device requested a refund after being told that there was no exact date when the issues could be fixed. The consumer was advised he did not qualify for a refund. The customer service representative allegedly informed the consumer:
“To be eligible for a refund, there are two requirements needed:
- Within 45 days upon shipment of the device.
- Purchased directly from Fitbit online web store.”
The Australian Consumer Law does not impose a 45-day refund period, nor do consumer rights in respect of faulty replacement goods depend on when the original product was purchased.
More information about a consumer’s right to repairs, replacements or refunds for faulty goods is available at Consumer guarantees and Repair, replace, refund.
The ACCC is seeking penalties, injunctions, a compliance program and other orders.