Optus has been hit with court-enforceable undertakings and forced to provide customers with free 24-month warranties. The move comes after significant pressure from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
As revealed by ARN, Optus was in negotiations with the ACCC in late 2010 over the issue and was expected to provide the undertaking by the Christmas season.
“We’re getting a bit concerned about the time it’s taking Optus to get these arrangements in place,” ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said at the time. “Optus is indicating to us that they anticipate having their arrangements in place in the next couple of months so you want to think that certainly in respect to this Christmas period that everything will be in place.
“If it’s not, then we may have to deal with it otherwise…it’s an unsatisfactory set of circumstances and it needs to be fixed.”
But despite expectations from the telco that a deal would be delivered by the end of 2010, it was not available by the Christmas season.
The move by Optus means all three major Australian mobile phone carriers provide 24-month warranties on most handsets free of charge. Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) was hit with court-enforceable undertakings to do so in January 2010 and Telstra negotiated a similar deal in October 2010.
“We now have a situation where consumers who purchase a mobile phone on a fixed contract have a warranty for the life of the contract,” Samuel said in a statement. “Retailers take note – you cannot wipe your hands clean of a faulty product just because the manufacturer's warranty period has ended.”
Apple iPhone users can also rest easy, with their handset finally covered by a 24-month warranty. The handset was previously excluded from the warranty agreements offered by VHA and Telstra.
According to the ACCC, Optus is offering to fix problems for customers with active unresolved handset complaints that are no older than six months old. It has also committed to not making any false or misleading representations about consumer rights for the next three years.