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Your Refund Rights & the Christmas Aftermath

Delia Rickard
7th February, 2017

This Christmas did you receive a gift that wasn’t quite right? Like a TV that won’t switch on, a speaker that stopped playing shortly after unboxing or a shirt that faded with one wash.

Did you know that if you receive goods or services as a gift, you have the same rights as the person who purchased the items?

Under the Australian Consumer Law, when you buy products and services they come with automatic guarantees that they will work and do what you asked for.

If it’s not right, use your rights
If something is not right, you can ask the seller for a repair, replacement or refund. The remedy will depend on whether the problem is major or minor. If it’s a minor problem, the business will be able to choose whether they will repair, replace or refund the product. You can choose a refund or replacement if there is a major problem.

What’s a ‘major’ failure?
A major failure is when a product is unsafe, significantly different from the sample or description or when it doesn’t do what the supplier said it would—or what you asked for—and can’t be easily fixed. In other words, if Santa knew about the problem he wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place.

When returning a gift with a major problem you still need to prove where it was purchased. The best proof of purchase is a tax invoice or receipt. However, other forms of evidence are acceptable. And, no, you don’t have to return something in the original packaging to get a refund.

What if I just don’t like something?
Businesses are required to provide a refund when there is a major problem, however they don’t have to give a refund simply because you don’t like a gift or changed your mind or the size or style is wrong. You may be able to exchange the item but this would be up to the business and the store’s returns policy.

How do my rights apply online?
If you buy from an Australian-based online seller, you are covered by the same consumer guarantees. 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. Check the terms and conditions of the contract before you buy gifts.

For more information visit https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/repair-replace-refund

Delia Rickard is Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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