Every couple of days Strategic Lawyers is contacted by someone who has purchased an expensive item online only to find out it didn’t live up to their expectations.

In the vast majority of these cases the person involved has purchased the item – often a boat, or a car, or an expensive home-appliance – after seeing it on Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or Gumtree.

They have the contacted the seller, discussed its condition, gone over to have a look and paid for it.

Only later do the hidden defects emerge, requiring thousands of dollars-worth of repair bills, or meaning the item is completely useless.

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The buyer goes back to the seller who just says: “buyer beware” or in many cases something beginning with the letter F and a lot less polite.

And then, panic stricken the buyer starts picking over their messages and all-too-often they find the seller has cleverly declined to comment on the defects, or in some cases just outright lied.

At this point we get called.

And the simple legal fact we wish everyone knew is this: the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) does not apply to private sales.

The ACL only applies to cases where the seller is engaged in trade or commerce, that is to say when you buy the item from a business not, from an individual.

This means the consumer guarantees you get when you buy something from a shop, or a dealer like:

  • Goods must be fit for any disclosed purpose
  • Goods must correspond to the description of said goods
  • Any express warranty must be complied with

Do not apply when you buy something via a private sale.

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That is unless the contract you have with the seller states the item you bought works, or is in good condition.

A lot of the time people think a contract needs to be a written document, but in fact, when there is no written contract the verbal agreement between the two people becomes the contract.

If someone has told you the boat, or the car, or the television works and it does not, that is in many cases grounds for rescission – i.e you give the item back and you get your money back.

However, proving exactly what was said, how it was said and when – all of which are legally important facts – can be very difficult.

And many of the sales we are seeing are for items costing close to $20,000.

Our Solution

Don’t be one of those left holding the bag when someone sets out to rip you off.

Come in, see our team of lawyers and for $550 we will draft you a contract for the sale setting out any known defects and ensuring the seller states it will work.

This means both sides have peace of mind – the seller knows you won’t come back making unreasonable demands and you know they’ve attested to the condition of the goods.

This gives you peace of mind and redress should your new purchase not be what you paid for.

2018-11-02T12:36:30+00:00