Belkin has agreed to honour claims under its lifetime warranty policies after it was found that the electronics manufacturer applied a policy of only repairing or replacing products under these warranties within the five years from the date of purchase.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on 19 December it had accepted a court-enforceable undertaking by Belkin to honour the claims by local buyers.
According to the ACCC, between about July 2016 and July 2017, Belkin made representations on the packaging of more than 130 types of its products that those products were sold with a “lifetime warranty” or “limited lifetime warranty”.
Products affected by these “lifetime warranty” claims included wireless routers, switches and cables.
However, Belkin had a policy on repairing or replacing those products pursuant to the warranty only within five years of the date of purchase, according to the ACCC. Yet, there was no material on or in the packaging of Belkin’s products informing consumers of this.
After looking into the claims, the ACCC decided that some consumers may have understood that a “lifetime warranty” or “limited lifetime warranty” applied for the lifetime of the purchaser, or a period longer than five years.
“Belkin has acknowledged that its lifetime warranty representations may have breached the Australian Consumer Law, which prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct and false or misleading representations about the effect of a warranty or guarantee,” ACCC commissioner, Sarah Court, said.
“Manufacturers must ensure consumers are not misled by warranty representations. If a business makes a lifetime warranty claim, they must be very clear about what this means with their customers,” she said.
As a result of the ACCC action, Belkin has also admitted that some products with lifetime warranties were likely to be non-compliant with the Australian Consumer Law because they did not include the wording required for use in any warranty against defects.
Belkin has subsequently undertaken to correct its website and packaging to comply with this requirement.
Among other things, Belkin has agreed to, for the next three years, honour the warranty on products sold with a “lifetime warranty” or “limited lifetime warranty” for the lifetime of the original end-user purchaser, subject to proof of purchase.
It has also agreed to not make a “lifetime warranty” or “limited lifetime warranty” representation, for the next three years, unless the warranties referred to in such representations apply for the lifetime of the original end-user purchaser.
It should be noted that the electronics manufacturer cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation and has taken steps to resolve the ACCC’s concerns.
"Belkin is committed to creating products that are meticulously designed and engineered with the highest standards, certification and compliance guidelines to ensure they are safe, reliable and compatible with a broad range of consumer electronics," a spokesperson for the company said.
"As part of this commitment, Belkin offers industry-leading express warranties across its extensive range of products that are additional to the consumer guarantees required by law.
"Earlier this year, Belkin was made aware of concerns regarding how some of its warranty terms were communicated in Australia. In collaboration with the local consumer regulator, Belkin has undertaken to update its website and packaging to ensure that its express warranty terms are clearly communicated and meet all applicable requirements."