With the mid-year sales in full swing, it’s time to answer some common questions about your refund rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
How do my rights apply?
Every purchase made as a consumer automatically comes with some basic consumer guarantees.This means products must be fit for purpose, be of acceptable quality, match the description and do the things you would expect them to do.
What if something isn’t right?
You can ask the seller for a repair, replacement or refund. The remedy will depend on whether the problem is major or minor. You can choose a refund or replacement if there is a major problem. The business will be able to choose whether they will repair, replace or refund the product if it’s a minor problem.
What if I have a problem with something I purchased online?
The same consumer rights apply when you shop with an Australian online business. Those rights will also apply when you buy from an overseas online business but you might find it difficult to get a repair, replacement or refund because the business is not based in Australia.
Do I need a receipt to get a refund?
Yes, but remember, proof of purchase comes in many forms. To use your rights you will need a receipt or some other proof of purchase. A receipt can be a GST tax invoice, cash register receipt or a hand written receipt. A copy or photograph of the receipt will also do. Other types of proof include credit or debit card statements, lay-by agreements and warranty cards.
Do I have to return the item in the original box?
No. You don’t have to return goods unopened or in their original packaging to claim a remedy under the law.
Can I get a refund on a sales item?
Yes. You’re entitled to a refund if a product has a major problem regardless of any promotions. Consumers are entitled to refunds under certain circumstances, and it’s misleading for businesses to suggest otherwise. For example, it’s illegal for a business to tell you or display signs that say ‘no refunds on sale items’.
I’ve changed my mind, can I still get a refund?
You’re not entitled to a refund or replacement under the law because there’s nothing wrong with the product, but you may be able to get a refund or credit if the store policy allows. Businesses can say ‘we are not required to provide a refund or replacement if you change your mind.’ They can also turn you away if you’ve broken something through misuse or if you haven’t followed the instructions.
More information about your rights under the Australian Consumer Law, including a Problem Solver, is available at www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees
Delia Rickard is Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.