Complaints have surfaced against a major printer supplier, with one SME alleging misleading sales practices and a failure to honour legitimate product warranties have cost it around $1 million.
Peter Wagener of Perth-based All Flags Signs & Banners contacted My Business in a bid to avoid being forced to take costly legal action to resolve the matter.
Mr Wagener, who founded the business in 1990 and currently employs 31 people, said he purchased two printers from Spicers, but was disappointed with the products that were delivered.
“We were looking to purchase a flat-bed printer, and were about to purchase a two-metre wide machine,” he said.
“Spicers’ rep at the time … supplied figures and data that convinced us to purchase two 1650mm-wide machines.
“[However] one of these was faulty and never printed correctly, nor did the two machines equal the output of the larger one.”
According to Mr Wagener, he complained to both Spicers and the manufacturer.
“While the manufacturer was happy to swap the machine out, Spicers’ attitude was they had spent too much already,” he said.
“I have offered several times to have them fix the machine, swap it out or refund it.”
Mr Wagener said he has since taken his business elsewhere following the dispute, having purchased five other printers worth more than $4 million as well as the consumable business worth more than $300,000 annually.
Yet the $1 million hit from the faulty and unusable machines has really hurt the company.
“It’s the lowest point of our last 28 years of business,” said Mr Wagener.
“I am shocked that such unscrupulous companies can hide behind the cost of the courts and get away with this.”
Mr Wagener also claimed that he is aware of two other smaller Australian businesses that have encountered the same problems with Spicers.
A spokesperson for Spicers did not respond to a request for comment before the time of publishing.
The ACCC said that consumer laws are not automatically extended to businesses. By definition, a consumer is someone who purchased goods costing less than $40,000, or where goods cost more than that are normally used for personal purposes or are a vehicle or trailer.
“Therefore some purchases by a business will fall under the consumer guarantees provided by the Australian Consumer Law and the business will then be entitled to certain remedies if something goes wrong,” a spokesperson for the ACCC said.
“For example, a business that purchases a printer that costs less than $40,000 to use in its office will be able to rely on the consumer guarantees under the ACL if there is a problem with it. If the business purchased the same printer to resell to consumers, it cannot rely on the ACL consumer guarantees.”
The ACCC spokesperson urged businesses to read the terms and conditions of a voluntary warranty, given that it may or may not apply to business customers.
“However, the consumer guarantees provided by the ACL apply regardless of any voluntary warranties that may be supplied by a retailer or manufacturer with a purchase, or that may be purchased from a retailer or manufacturer with the good or service purchased,” said the spokesperson.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.