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Re: Acrobat 4.05 -- consumer law options

I spoke to an officer of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
(ACCC) at lunchtime and his initial reaction pending further consultation
with colleagues was:

Goods not of merchantable quality
Fitness for purpose

Consumers purchased Acrobat 4.0 with the reasonable expectation that it
would work as version 3.x had.  For example, a purchaser could reasonably
expect that A4.0 would compress JPEG images according to the option

Remedy: return of goods and refund of purchase price

False or misleading representation (1)

Consumers, influenced by advertising which failed to inform users of missing
or faulty functionality, etc. purchased goods reasonably expecting it to
perform as advertised.

Remedy: fine for manufacturer, and return of goods and refund of purchase

False or misleading representation (2)

Consumer purchased goods in shop believing it to be the latest version in
the absence of any communication from the manufacturer, carton stickers,
leaflets, or other warning to the contrary, but in fact were sold old stock,
that is, v. 4.0 instead of 4.05.  This would arise if dealers still held old
stock, or Adobe had not replaced dealers old stock with new stock once the
defects were known or advised dealers of the defects and had requested
dealers to advise purchasers as such at the point of sale, or new and old
stock were mixed on dealers shelves without distinction as to labelling or

Remedy: fine for manufacturer, and return of goods and refund of purchase

The officer said that Adobe are not obliged to provide the fixes or updates
free of charge even though they may have appeared to have set a precedent by
providing patch releases free in the past, for example, FrameMaker 5.5.6.
But, prima facie, they ARE obliged to refund the purchase price if the ACCC
were to find that any of the above scenarios apply.

Australian purchasers should make sure they DO NOT purchase or upgrade from
the Adobe USA web site because of questions of jurisdiction as to where a
sale takes place -- Australia or USA.  They are advised to purchase from an
Australian page or dealer, or respond to any mailout offers from Adobe
Systems Australia, to ensure Australian jurisdiction.

An ACCC fine is not to be sniffed at.  Telstra, one of our telcos, was
threatened with fines of $A1 million per day until they gave other telcos
access to consumers telephone lines at reasonable tariffs.  Needless to say,
the desired access was provided overnight.  

I'll advise of further developments as they occur.  Keep watching this

[FrameMaker 5.5.6, Acrobat 3.02, Windows 98, HP OmniBook 2100]

Hedley Finger   Technical Writer

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