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Steve's assignment


Steve is a first-year Commercial Law student. His assignment for the subject is a case involving the legal rights of a consumer against a business.

Assignment topic:

This assignment involves the legal rights and responsibilities of Patricia Wu and Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd. View the whole assignment question here.

  1. Look at the lecturer's expectations of the assignment.
  2. Next read Steve's assignment.
    • How well do you think the assignment responds to the topic?
    • Do you think the assignment could be improved in any way?
  3. Now read the lecturer's comments about Steve's assignment.
  4. Finally, listen to Steve talk about how he wrote his assignment and read feedback about how to overcome the difficulties he faced.

Assignment - Semester 2, 2000

Patricia Wu had recently opened up her own office supplies business 'Wu's Wonders' which deals mainly with students at a local University. In addition to selling pens and paper, Patricia also provides copying services for students, particularly science and medical students. She specialises in the copying and binding of student theses.

One day her photocopier broke down and she went to Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd to purchase a new one. Several were displayed, including a second-hand one, manufactured by Kojack Ltd. It had a huge sign on it saying 'Great Bargain. Low mileage. Almost as good as new. Buy now and save!! Yours for $35,000.'

Patricia asked Shirley, the salesperson, what 'low mileage' meant. Shirley explained that the machine had hardly been used and had only completed 1,000 copies. Patricia then asked how old it was. Shirley replied, ' Oh I'm not 100 % sure but I think it is last year's model'. Patricia told Shirley about her business of copying theses, which included photographs, and then asked if the copier could do a number of specialised tasks, such as colour copies, double-siding, collating, stapling and reducing. Most importantly, she asked whether it was capable of producing large quantities of copies quickly and without breaking down.

Shirley reassured her and said: 'This copier will do all that and more. It has the best quality lens for really clear reproductions. You'll have no problem and anyway we provide a month's free service. We have had no complaints about this model.'

Patricia then signed a contract of purchase, buying the copier for $35,000.

When using the copier, Patricia soon realised that not all copies were clear, the colours appeared to be 'washed-out' and 'red' was always 'pink'. She rang Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd who sent out a repairman to service the machine. The next day the copier broke down and the repairman explained that it needed a new lens valued at $10,000. Patricia, who had just recently obtained a contract, valued at $50,000, to provide copying services to the University's Faculty of Business, was placed in a stressful position. In order to honour this contract, Patricia had to lease another copier from 'Joe's Office Rentals' at $100 a day for a total of 14 days. When Patricia explained her story to Joe, he laughed and said that that particular model of copier was always breaking down and had been recalled by the manufacturer due to the overwhelming number of complaints. He also said that it was about 5 years old and explained that normally a lens only needed replacing after 200,000 copies had been made. Furthermore, he believed the copier was only worth approximately $15,000.

When the new lens arrived, Patricia's troubles continued. The machine could not reduce and produce double-sided copies simultaneously. It could perform each task separately, but not simultaneously.

Bob sent Patricia an account for the new lens, which Patricia refused to pay because she thought it was included in the first month's free service. Bob replied that the service deal didn't include spare parts, just the labour costs. Patricia re-read the contract. Although it contained a clause which stated that there was one month's free service, the meaning of 'service' was not stated.

She did however, notice the following clause:

'Any conditions, statutory or otherwise, not contained herein are excluded.'

[a] What legal rights (including remedies) would Patricia have against Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd arising out of the above set of facts? Explain your answer.

[15 marks]

[b] What legal rights (including remedies) would Patricia have against Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd if the price for the photocopier was $45,000? Explain your answer.

[15 marks]

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