While many consumers will go out and spend big during Boxing Day Sales, it is important that you know and understand your basic consumer law rights. Below, we step through 7 key points that shoppers should arm themselves with about Australia’s Consumer Law (ACL).

1. When to Repair, Replace or Refund a Product

If the product has a minor defect, then the business can choose to offer you a repair, replacement or refund. You must accept any free repairs the business offers. If it is a significant problem, you can ask the business to replace or refund the good. Examples of major problems include:

  • Whether it is dangerous or unsafe to use;
  • If the product you bought is different to what the business described, advertised or displayed;
  • If the product cannot be fixed easily; or
  • Had you known about the problem, it would’ve stopped you from buying the good.

If the product has a problem, the business can recover any reasonable transportation or postage costs incurred in moving the product back to the original store. If the product is difficult to remove, then it is the business’ responsibility to collect the product in a reasonable time.

2. Can I Refund the Product if I Change my Mind?

While some stores may offer a “30-day money back guarantee, no questions asked”, this right is only specific to the store. You do not have any consumer rights to refund or exchange the product if you simply change your mind.

3. Do I Need to Keep the Original Packaging to Get my Refund or Replacement?

The ACL does not require you to keep the original packaging for you to return the product. All that you require is a proof of purchase from the retailer or manufacturer, such as a receipt.

4. “No Refund” Policies: Don’t be fooled!

Australia’s Consumer Law does not allow any signs or claims of a “no refund” policy, regardless of the circumstances. If, however, there is a problem with the product that you already knew or were made aware of before purchase, a consumer lawyer would advise that you are unlikely entitled to a refund.

5. Refund From the Retailer or Manufacturer?

The retailer cannot refuse to give you a refund provided that you have successfully made out the grounds. Your retailer also shouldn’t direct all enquiries to your manufacturer.

In some cases, you can also contact the manufacturer directly. However, you are only entitled to receive costs for an amount that may be less than the original price you paid. We then recommend that you go to the retailer first.

6. Extended Warranties: Is There Any Point Paying Extra Money?

Under the Australian Consumer Law, Consumer Guarantees for products do not have a definite expiry date. This means that while your retailer may offer you warranties, Australia’s Consumer Law guarantees already provide protection. These guarantees may outlast any warranties that the retailer provides. The length of your consumer guarantee is the period reasonable for that product.

7. Buying Online

More and more often, people are skipping crowded stores, and long queues and instead opting to shop online from the comfort of their own homes. While this is certainly more convenient, some consumers feel uneasy purchasing online as they are unsure about the product’s quality, or that they may be unable to return the product once it arrives on their doorstep.

The good news is that Australia’s Consumer Law protects all goods or services purchased from an online business based in Australia. So, you will be given the same protections as you would have had you bought the product or service in a store. However, the Australian Consumer Law does not apply to any goods purchased worth more than $40,000. Particularly private sellers (see the Australian Consumer Law for more details), or when the business is located outside Australia.

Questions? Get in touch on 1300 544 755.

Catherine Logan

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