“I love waiting in long lines to try on clothes, walking from store to store carrying my shopping bags and standing in another long line to pay for everything I want to buy” said no one ever.

With almost every store allowing customers to purchase from its online website, who wouldn’t shop online to avoid the cues and hassle of lining up and to try  purchase their favourite products?

However, with less face-to-face contact with the shop assistants working at our favourite stores, it is difficult to get complete information on the terms and conditions regarding every product that we buy. Of course, most reputable stores will clearly set out their sales terms and conditions and their refund and exchange policy, however as a customer it is useful for you to know the refund policies as set out under the Australian Consumer Law.

What is the Australian Consumer Law?

The Australian Consumer Law automatically applies for the sale of all goods and services to consumers under the value of $40,000.00. This legislation has been put in place to protect consumers and ensure that all the products that you buy serve the purpose that you bought them for.

When can I get a refund?

The remedies available to you as a consumer depend on the type of fault that is presented in the product that you have purchased. For example, if there is a minor fault in the product then the retailer of the products can offer you a repair, refund or replacement at their option. A minor fault is something that can be easily fixed through repairing or exchanging the product.

However, if there is a major problem with the products then you can ask the retailer of the product for a replacement or a refund at your option. If a good has a major problem this means that:

  • it has a problem that would prevent someone from purchasing it had they known about the problem;
  • the problem makes the product unsafe;
  • the product is different from any sample that was shown to you;
  • it cannot be easily fixed; or
  • the product does not do what the retailer said that it would. 

Taking these points into consideration you can decide whether the fault in a product that you have purchased is major or minor. However, you should note that retailers are not obliged to provide you with a refund if you have simply changed your mind.

You should also keep in mind that “no refund” signs are unlawful under the Australian Consumer Law. If a retailer states that refunds will not be offered on sale items or that credit notes are issued for returns of faulty good and refunds will not be provided, these signs are not valid under Australian law. 


As an Australian consumer, it is a good idea to know your rights under the Australian Consumer Law. This is especially the case if you are shopping online and you are relying on the sales terms and conditions published on a website.  For more information on consumer guarantees, please visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission at: http://www.accc.gov.au/

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Ursula Hogben
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