Buyers of old goods need protection, too! | business | Hindustan Times
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Buyers of old goods need protection, too!

With an old-for-new culture giving rise to a large market for second-hand goods, it is time to look at what they mean for consumers, writes

business Updated: Sep 07, 2008 21:38 IST
Pushpa Girimaji

With an old-for-new culture giving rise to a large market for second-hand goods, it is time to look at what they mean for consumers.

Several countries protect consumers buying second hand goods. In the UK, anyone selling used electrical goods should ensure that the goods meet legal safety requirements. And this covers labeling, construction, design and manufacture, insulation and earthing, protection from electric shock and instructions for safe use as well. Those who sell unsafe or incorrectly labeled electrical goods are liable to be prosecuted and punished with imprisonment and fine. They are also liable to pay damages.

In New Zealand, second-hand buyers are protected under the Consumer Guarantees Act, which says that such goods must be of acceptable quality and stipulates that the products should be fit for use, safe, free from minor defect, acceptable in looks and last for a reasonable period of time. Of course, the standards are different from those for new products.

In the US, the Federal Trade Commission enforces 'Used Car Rule' to protect buyers. The rule that covers all dealers stipulates that they post a one-page buyers' guide or a disclosure document in every car to ensure that consumers get information in writing about any warranty protection after purchase. The guide becomes a part of the sales contract. The guide also gives consumers some important suggestions and a warning including the need to ask dealers to put the promises they make in writing.

It is India emulates such practices and evolves its rules for second hand goods—which also need reasonable life and safety. After all, they don’t come cheap. The Right to Choose and the Right to Information applies in all cases.

Some manufacturers leave a catch that makes warranties applicable only for first buyers—even if the warranty period is valid. In such cases, consumers should ask dealers to give a fresh warranty, but there are no mandatory safeguards.

Of course, the dealer would be liable if a consumer can prove that the dealer made false promises on quality and performance. In the case of Byford Leasing Ltd vs SVR Rao, where the company advertised the sale of reconditioned cars with a six-month warranty, the consumer court directed Byford to refund the cost of the car along with 12 per cent interest and pay Rs 10,000 as compensation to an aggrieved customer. The claim of the seller was found to be false in this case-- the car was not reconditioned, it was defective and not road-worthy.

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