A couple who requested a refund have wound up taking the retailer to a tribunal after they refused to give their money back.
A couple who requested a refund have wound up taking the retailer to a tribunal after they refused to give their money back. Contributed

Couple takes legal action over faulty-recliner feud

A COUPLE who demanded a full refund on a faulty recliner chair worth $3824 will take the retailer to a tribunal after the pair rejected an order the manufacturer replace every component.

John and Helen Cooper found the foam in one of two chairs they bought collapsed three months after they purchased it in November 2017, and requested Fussy give their money back.

When they refused and offered to instead replace the foam, the Coopers launched legal action in Maroochydore and the matter came on for hearing before Justices of the Peace on August 1 last year.

A representative of the first respondent, Fussy, advised the manufacturer and second respondent, Stressless, had offered to replace the whole back assembly of the chair, springs, frame, foam, leather, seat assembly, arms assembly and foot rest.

Ultimately, the Justice of the Peace ordered in favour of this, but the Coopers successfully appealed that order at a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing in Brisbane.

Member Howe made their decision on March 29 this year, and during the appeal process found Stressless had never taken part in any of the original proceedings, nor had they been served with a copy of the application.

It was unclear if Stressless was even aware the order was made.

Member Howe determined the original action constituted a fundamental error of law, and a "substantial injustice" to Stressless.

Appeal documents show the Coopers were self-represented, and had also complained during the first proceedings that under Australian Consumer Law they should not have to accept the faulty chair being repaired, and had no confidence it could be.

They submitted the chair must have a "major failure" given the offer by the manufacturer to replace all component parts of the chair.

Under ACL, if goods supplied to a consumer in trade or commerce there is a guarantee the goods will be of an "acceptable quality", and if this is breached with a "major failure" the supplier is entitled to reject the goods, and must refund the consumer's money.

This claim was not considered in the original ruling, and Member Howe remarked it seems the decision was based on the Justice of the Peace at the time's view that the offer to replace components was "very reasonable".

"Mr and Mrs Cooper were entitled to have their claim to a refund considered and determined. That it was not amounts to an error of law on the part of the Tribunal.

Given Stressless was never party to the original action and was never served, nor did they appear or take part in the appeal, the matter will be returned to a differently constituted Tribunal for reconsideration without Stressless as party to the action.