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Refund rights

CHOICE says it’s important to know your rights when it comes to refunds, repairs and replacements

26 December 2013

If you’ve unwrapped a dud this Christmas it’s important to know your rights when it comes to refunds, repairs and replacements. It doesn’t matter if the faulty product was purchased from a bricks and mortar retailer, an Australian website or an overseas website - consumers are protected by the same Australian Consumer Law.¹
This means all consumers are entitled to a refund, replacement or to have the product repaired if it is faulty, doesn’t do the job it is supposed to do or does not match the advertised description.²
“Even if the item is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, the retailer can’t avoid dealing with the problem. Warranties do not replace or restrict your rights to a refund, replacement or repair if a product is faulty,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Tom Godfrey.
“It’s also important to remember that the person who bought the faulty item does not have to be the same person to take it back.”
“If you received a gift that is broken or does not work as it is meant to, you can claim the refund or ask for it to be repaired or replaced. Whoever takes the faulty item back just has to make sure they can provide proof of purchase – a receipt, credit card statement or even the retailer’s swing tag,”
CHOICE says people shopping in the post-Christmas sales should not be put off by a ‘no refund’ sign that may appear on sale items.
“These signs are illegal. Unless a product is clearly marked as a ‘second’ or is discounted due to defects that were made clear at the time of purchase, your rights to a refund, repair or replacement of a broken or faulty item still stand,” says Mr Godfrey.
In some circumstances, retailers are not obliged to offer a refund. If you change your mind about the colour or if it doesn’t fit, the store isn’t compelled to give you your money back or exchange the item.
“It pays to do your homework, especially for the post-Christmas sales. A bargain isn’t a bargain if, once you get home, you realise what you bought is not what you wanted,” says Mr Godfrey.
“If you are buying a big ticket item, do your research and set a budget. It also helps to know the model number and features you want. While it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the sales, planning your purchases will help avoid disappointment.”
CHOICE’s tips when it comes to refunds or exchanges:
  • You don’t need the original packaging but you do need proof of purchase, such as a receipt, credit card statement or swing tag.
  • Online retailers should pay for the cost of posting back a faulty item back.
  • When returning faulty goods you can ask for the refund in cash even if the person who bought the gift purchased it by credit card – you don’t have to accept a store voucher just because someone else paid for it on their card.
  • Don’t let the store brush you off by saying you have to deal with the manufacturer – the store where you bought the item must sort out the problem for you.
  • Check the store’s refund or exchange policy before you buy the item. Some larger stores may give you a credit note or offer an exchange even if you change your mind.
  • If you think you are entitled to a refund but the retailer still refuses to give you one, contact the Office of Fair Trading in your state or territory.
[1] Contained in a schedule to the Competition and Consumer Act, 2010.
[2] If it’s a ‘major failure’, you can choose whether you receive a refund, replacement or the product is repaired. A ‘major failure’ includes being unsafe, doesn’t do the job it is supposed to do, different from the description or you wouldn’t have bought it if you knew about the problem. If the product has a minor problem and can be fixed reasonably quickly, then the retailer can decide whether to fix the problem, give you a refund or replace the product.

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