A ''crackdown'' on extended warranties by the ACT Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, has been dismissed as an attempt to distract attention away from other issues in his portfolio by retailers and the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
''It sounds to me like Mr Corbell is looking for a huge distraction at the moment and this is it,'' chamber chief executive Chris Peters told Fairfax Media.
Mr Corbell has questioned the value of extended warranties offered by retailers at extra cost on the grounds consumers are already protected under federal laws.
''Office of Regulatory Services inspectors will be surveying extended warranties in the market place in the coming months and assessing whether they measure up to the Australian Consumer Law,'' Mr Corbell said.
Consumers are regularly offered extended warranties, for a fee, on electrical equipment and whitegoods.
''In most cases consumers are already protected by consumer guarantees or statutory warranties under the ACL,'' Mr Corbell said.
Mr Peters said it would be wrong for Mr Corbell to assume extended warranties simply duplicated protections that already existed under the law.
A major Canberra electrical goods retailer, who cannot be named because of the terms of his franchise agreement, agreed.
''There are holes in the consumer legislation you could drive a B-double through,'' he said. ''A key part of the Australian Consumer Law is the concept of 'reasonable time', which is not clearly defined.
''The extended warranty provides clear, and accessible, undertakings for up to five years - it is peace of mind.''
Mr Peters said once an item had been in a consumer's possession for two years or more, it was very hard to establish that any fault or breakdown was the responsibility of the manufacturer or the supplier.