Information for customers affected by U-nited Group Liquidation
On 9 July 2012, the creditors of Melbourne-based companies U-nited Warranties Pty Ltd, and two related entities, U-nited Maintenance Pty Ltd and U-nited Electrical Holding Company Pty Ltd, resolved to appoint Matt Byrnes and Andrew Hewitt of Grant Thornton as liquidators.
Prior to closing its doors, the U-nited group of companies (U-nited) provided extended warranty and maintenance services throughout Australia, pursuant to authorisations provided under Australian financial services licence 312795. The majority of U-nited’s extended warranty products were offered at the point of sale through major retail chains, including Myer and Big W, Bush Australia and a number of independent retailers.
The liquidators have advised that they will be liaising with Myer, Big W and other providers in relation to any warranty claims that have not been completed and will arrange for customers’ goods to be collected by those retailers. The liquidators will also undertake an investigation into the U-nited companies and will report to ASIC when their investigation is complete. ASIC will consider the liquidator’s report and take appropriate action, if required.
ASIC is liaising with other consumer protection regulators, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and state and territory consumer protection agencies, to closely monitor any consumer impact of the liquidation of the U-nited group. ASIC is also liaising with the retailers that marketed U-nited warranties, including Myer and Big W, regarding their approach to the handling of current and future consumer claims on the warranties.
The Australian Consumer Law provides consumers with a number of automatic rights when they purchase products and services. These rights are called consumer guarantees and entitle consumers to certain remedies, including a repair or replacement, where a problem arises.
These guarantee rights apply regardless of whether the product or service comes with a warranty or the consumer has paid for an extended warranty. This means that consumers may still be entitled to a remedy under these guarantees, even if they have a warranty or their warranty has expired. Consumers who want more information about the consumer guarantees should visit the ACCC website .
The following advice is provided to consumers who are concerned about whether they can still make a claim under a U-nited warranty, or who are waiting on the repair and return of items under a U-nited warranty:
- U-nited has a consumer’s goods for repair
You should contact the retailer who sold you the item to seek the return of your goods. It is possible that some of the goods returned to consumers will not have been repaired by U-nited (see below for further advice if goods still have a fault).
- Fault with an item which is under warranty
You should contact the place of purchase to seek a remedy.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with the retailer, you can lodge a complaint with the relevant state consumer protection agency and they will be able to provide advice and assistance. Contact details for each agency are available on the Australian Consumer Law website .
Under the consumer guarantees, you can approach the retailer or the manufacturer for a remedy and they have an obligation to address product failures. If you approach the retailer and they have a policy of sending the product to the manufacturer for assessment, they must deal with the manufacturer on your behalf. Retailers cannot avoid or ignore their obligations by referring you to the manufacturer.
Big W has confirmed that it will administer valid claims made by its customers under Big W Protection Plans it has sold. Big W customers wishing to make a claim should call Big W on its call centre number 1300 244 999.
Bush Australia has confirmed that it will honour all valid warranty claims, including valid claims on any extended warranties issued by U-nited Warranties on Bush Australia's products. Bush Australia customers wishing to make a claim should contact the company on its call centre number 1300 055 518.
- Retailer that sold the extended warranty has also gone out of business
If you wish to make a claim on a faulty item you can contact the manufacturer of the item to discuss your potential right to a remedy under the consumer guarantees.
If an item of yours is held by U-nited and was sold by a retailer that no longer operates, then you should contact Grant Thornton to arrange collection.
- Recently purchased warranty
If you have recently purchased a warranty and paid for it by credit card, you can seek a chargeback (i.e. a refund of the amount paid for the warranty) through your financial institution. This is subject to certain time limits.
- Retailers rights against manufacturers
If a retailer provides a remedy to a consumer for a fault that was caused by the manufacturer, the retailer may take action against the manufacturer to recover the costs incurred in providing a remedy.
- All consumers who hold an extended warranty
You can contact the retailer who sold the extended warranty to you to check the status of the warranty.
ASIC Website: Printed 10/03/2014