On 1 January 2011, a new national Australian Consumer Law regime came into effect. Please see our article or go to http://www.accc.gov.au/consumerrights for information on these changes.
It's a common problem. You buy a product, get it home and then discover that it's broken or doesn't work. Or an item fails to perform in the way it promised, such as a toy plane that collapses in mid-flight the first time you launch it. Or an expensive mobile phone that stops working a few days after the warranty expires.
When this happens to you, don't be fobbed off! You do have rights, even though many retailers will not take great pains to tell you about them.
Consumer protection law exists to protect people from faulty or inadequate products and services, and misleading advertising. In some cases this means a refund, or a free repair or replacement of the faulty product.
In this report we explain your rights to a refund for products or services, how warranties affect the situation, and where to go for help if a retailer isn't cooperating.
Please note: this information was current as of March 2007 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
The short version
- Goods should meet a basic level of quality and keep working for a reasonable period. If they don't, you are entitled to redress.
- If goods are faulty or defective, you are entitled to a refund, or an exchange or repair (this is your choice).
- Tradespeople and professionals should perform work that meets a certain standard. If it doesn't, you're entitled to compensation.
- No matter where you’re shopping, even if you’re buying online, it pays to check the conditions of the refund policy before you buy. Also, keep the receipt in case you need to return the item.
- Refunds policies vary from store to store. Some retailers offer a refund or exchange within a certain period. Some offer exchange or credit note only. Others won’t take the goods back if you change your mind.
- If the store only offers an exchange, the item in question might be out of stock and you may not find anything else suitable.
- Credit notes usually have a time limit. If you can’t find something you want in that time, the credit note expires.
- Retailers aren’t obliged to refund your money if you simply change your mind, though they may do so as a gesture of good will. Ask before you buy.