There are multiple reasons why customers return goods that they have bought. Sometimes the goods are faulty, the customer has changed their mind, or purchased the wrong item, or maybe the product description was different.

Under Australia’s Consumer Law, a customer has a right to return a product and be remedied accordingly. In other circumstances, the customer can’t refund the goods, but it is ultimately up to the store owner’s exercising their discretion as to how they will respond.

This article looks at refunds and the circumstances under which the customer has a right to return a product.

When a Customer Has the Right to Return a Product

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) outlines some consumer guarantees, which your business automatically provides to customers. It protects the customers if the products they buy do not function as expected.

If your products do not meet these consumer guarantees, your business may have to:

  • Provide a refund, 
  • Conduct repairs, 
  • Offer a replacement, or 
  • Provide compensation to the customer. 

These remedies vary depending on whether the issue with the product is considered major or minor.

What Are ‘Major’ Problems?

A major problem with a product gives the customer a right to return the product and seek a remedy. The following situations are considered major problems:

  • The product differs significantly from the description or sample product;
  • A reasonable customer would not have bought the product if they know about the problem;
  • The product doesn’t do what the customer was told it would, or what it is supposed to do, and it cannot be fixed quickly or easily;
  • The product is unsafe.

If there is a major problem with a product, then the customer has the choice of:

  • Returning the product and getting a refund or replacement; or 
  • Keeping the product and asking you to compensate for the reduced value.

What are ‘Minor’ Problems?

In short, a minor problem is fixable. Customers should give businesses an opportunity to fix the problem within a reasonable time, and you can choose whether you want to refund, repair or replace the item.

When a Customer Does Not Have the Right to Return a Product

There are situations where a customer does not have the right to return a product, but you are still able to offer a refund or exchange. You are not required to accept a return of the product if the customer: 

  • Changes his or her mind; 
  • Orders or buys the wrong product;
  • Finds a cheaper or better product at another store;
  • Is aware of the fault before buying the product;
  • Damages the product because he or she misused the product; or 
  • The product experiences general wear and tear.  


Your business can refund, exchange or offer store credit to the customer, but you are not required to.  Some businesses in addition to the ACL have their own refund policies. If this is the case, make sure that you stick to them!

Questions? Get in touch with LegalVision’s experienced consumer lawyers on 1300 544 755. 

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Dhanu Eliezer
Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at

View Privacy Policy