Does Using Another Company's Cleaning Products Affect Warranty?

 

Unfortunately for consumers, it is common for companies to include misleading (or complex) information in their warranties. As distributors of coffee machine cleaning products, we often hear stories from our customers of the idle threats from manufacturers regarding potential voiding of their warranties. In these instances, manufacturers have claimed that if the customer doesn’t use the manufacturer’s brand of cleaner in their coffee machine, it could affect their machine warranty if an issue occurs. While we have seen this situation overturned many times, we thought it appropriate to give our customers some clarity on this issue, by providing some easy-to-understand information after seeking legal counsel.

 

 

The advice we have received is from John Goldberg, a consultant with Cowell Clarke Pty Ltd., and former President and Chair of the Ethics and Practice Committee of the Law of Society of South Australia. Goldberg explained to us that any consumer that has purchased goods for commercial purposes in Australia that do not exceed $40,000 (extended to $100,000 as of July 1, 2021), is entitled to a statutory warranty. This statutory warranty is a part of the contract that is automatically formed between a buyer and a seller under Australian Law and cannot be overruled; it is a guarantee that manufacturers must ensure that their products are suitable and fit for the purpose for which they are supplied. Manufacturers or businesses can also offer their own warranties on their products (often called voluntary or extended warranties) but the law does not require them to. This type of warranty or promise is in addition to a consumer’s statutory rights.

An example of this might be if you purchase a fancy new TV, with a 12-month extended store warranty. If, after 13 or 14 months the TV begins to show manufacturing faults, you are still entitled to a remedy from the seller (in the form of a free repair or replacement), as the product was not reasonably fit for purpose. Extended warranties like this can often mislead consumers into believing that they are not eligible for a free repair or replacement after a certain time, that they need to pay for repairs elsewhere, or that they will need to purchase a new product altogether.

One of the more famous examples of a company attempting to void warranties unlawfully was tech giant, Apple. In 2017, Apple was alleged to have presented to customers with faulty products that they were not entitled to a free software repair if their Apple device had previously been repaired by an unauthorised third party. Even though the faulty devices had previously been repaired by someone other than Apple, this by itself cannot extinguish the customer’s statutory right to a free repair by the manufacturer. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims commented on this, saying “Consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer’s warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party.” ¹

In a similar way, a consumer’s use of a third party cleaning product in their coffee machine cannot extinguish the machine’s statutory warranty. Furthermore, it is misleading for manufacturers to claim that warranty will be affected by using or not using any particular brand of cleaning product, providing that the product is fit for purpose. Goldberg explains, that “where an espresso machine is cleaned using your (Bombora’s) products (which are not defective and do not cause harm to the machine), for the manufacturer or distributor to claim that the statutory consumer warranty has been extinguished or voided amounts to misleading or deceptive conduct under Australian Consumer Law. Apart from the owner of the machine having a continuing right to have the machine serviced or repaired under warranty, it is my opinion that the manufacturer or distributor that makes these claims is liable to an action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which may ultimately lead to penalties being imposed by the Federal Court.”²

If this situation sounds familiar to you and you have been informed by the manufacturer of your coffee machine that your warranty may be affected if you use a third party cleaning product, this little checklist might help your concern:

  1. Was your coffee machine purchased at a price of $40,000 ($100,000 as of 1st July 2021) or lower?
  2. Is your chosen coffee machine cleaning product the right type for your type of machine?
  3. Is your chosen coffee machine cleaning product fit for purpose?
  4. Are you using your chosen coffee machine cleaning product correctly?

 

 

If you answered ‘yes’ to these four questions, it is a good indication that your warranty will not be affected by your use of a third party cleaning product in your coffee machine. If your chosen coffee machine cleaner is fit for purpose and used correctly, you are able to use any brand of product that you wish to clean your coffee machine, without it affecting the machine warranty. In Bombora’s extensive range of coffee machine cleaning products, you’ll find quality, affordable products that are fit for purpose. Whether you need a cleaner for an automatic coffee machine, a manual espresso machine or cold brew equipment, Bombora has the right product for you.

For more information on our cleaning range or to make an enquiry, you can get in touch with us by sending an email to [email protected] or giving us a call on 1300 724 249.

 

 

¹ Rod Sims 2017, ACCC takes action against Apple over alleged misleading consumer guarantee representations, accessed 6 August 2021, >https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-takes-action-against-apple-over-alleged-misleading-consumer-guarantee-representations<

² John Goldberg (Cowell Clarke Pty Ltd.), “Effect on warranty for espresso machines of use of unauthorised or third party cleaning products”, email message to Chris Short, July 16, 2021.

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