26 December 2015
From failed festivals to overheating hoverboards, consumer advocacy group CHOICE is reminding Australians of their refund rights as we head towards Christmas and the Boxing Day sales.
"Once the Christmas retail hype dies down, if you find you're left holding a worthless festival ticket, faulty hoverboard, dangerous toy or fire prone washing machine, it's important to exercise your right to a refund, repair or replacement," says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.
"It has been a big year for recalls and as retail sales gather pace over the festive season, it's worth checking the recalls.gov.au website and returning products with a major failure for a full refund or replacement.
"Retailers are known for trying all manner of tricks to dance around your basic rights.
"From displaying illegal 'no refund' signs, fobbing you off to the manufacturer, forcing you to accept a shorter manufacturer's warranty or insisting you return the faulty product in its original packaging, retailers have been known to roll out some of the oldest tricks in the book."
A recent CHOICE shadow shop of 109 Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and the Good Guys stores across the country found nearly half of the salespeople contacted didn't understand basic rights to a refund for faulty products.
"With so many salespeople failing to understand your right to a repair, replacement or a refund, it's worth arming yourself will a few facts before heading in-store," says Mr Godfrey.
"Under the Australian Consumer Law you can return a faulty product such as a TV or washing machine to the store or contact the manufacturer within a reasonable period of time, even after the manufacturer's warranty has expired.
"So if you have one of 45,000 recalled Samsung washing machines or one of the many recalled toys and hoverboards, give yourself an early Christmas present and get your money back.
"It's also worth remembering that if the faulty item is quite large it's the retailers responsibility to pay for transportation," Mr Godfrey says.
"Of course, you'll have to dance to a different tune if the product isn't faulty and you just change your mind. So it's worth reading the store's returns policy."
Top ten consumer rights tips
- "No refund" signs are against the law
- If a product isn't of acceptable quality, the retailer can't charge you to fix it
- Retailers can't just refer you to the manufacturer
- If the fault is "major", you can ask for a refund or replacement rather than a repair
- Retailers should pay the transportation cost for bulky items
- You should be informed if a replacement is second-hand or if refurbished parts have been used
- Repairs must be made within a reasonable time
- You don't have to return a faulty product in its original packaging
- If you've lost a receipt you can still show proof of purchase with a credit card statement, confirmation or receipt number from an internet or phone transaction
- Extended warranties are often not necessary as they may not cover much more than the Australian Consumer Law