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How to use your consumer rights this Christmas

CHOICE’s top tips on refunds, returns and more!

Last updated: 21 December 2023

With Christmas and Boxing Day just around the corner, many people may be wondering what their rights are when it comes to returning a faulty product or an unwanted gift.

"We all know Christmas is a busy time for shopping, with many people exchanging gifts with loved ones or hoping to nab a bargain in the Boxing Day Sales. If something isn't quite right with a product you've purchased or received, it's important to know how to exercise your consumer rights," says CHOICE Director of Campaigns and Communications, Rosie Thomas. 

Here are CHOICE's top tips on how to exercise your consumer rights this Christmas:

1. Know your rights

"Getting familiar with your rights will give you the confidence to access them if something goes wrong. If a product you receive or purchase is faulty, you are entitled to either a refund, replacement or repair under the Australian Consumer Law. The exact remedy will depend on if the failure is major or minor," says Thomas. 

"If there's a major failure with a product, you can ask for your choice of a repair, replacement or a refund. If the failure is minor, like a few loose threads on a piece of clothing, the retailer can decide whether to offer a repair, refund or replacement," says Thomas.

2. What to do if something goes wrong

"If you purchased a dud product or service, contact the company you purchased it from as soon as possible. If the company is reluctant to help, you can escalate your complaint by reporting it to the ACCC or your state's fair trading agency," says Thomas. 

"Keeping a record of your purchase is important for situations like these, but if you've lost the receipt, don't panic! The ACCC says proof of purchase can include a credit or debit card statement, a lay-by agreement, and even a serial or production number linked with the purchase on the supplier's or manufacturer's database," says Thomas. 

3. Be wary of extended warranties 

"You might be offered an extended warranty when purchasing a product this Christmas, but in most cases, extended warranties are poor value and not worth your money. The Australian Consumer Law already provides you with consumer guarantees if something goes wrong with your product. If you feel pressure to purchase an extended warranty, ask the salesperson, 'What protection does this give me beyond the consumer law?'," says Thomas. 

4. What to do if you receive a gift you don't love

"Change of mind purchases aren't covered under the Australian Consumer Law. However, many retailers have generous and extended return policies around Christmas. If you've received a present that you're not particularly fond of, or have changed your mind about a purchase, we recommend reaching out to the store and seeing what they can do," says Thomas. 

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