Refunds

When you return a product

Consumers are entitled to a refund if a guarantee is not met.  However, a refund isn’t always a consumers right.  Businesses don’t have to give a refund if you:

  • change your mind
  • buy the wrong size
  • buy the wrong colour.

Some businesses will still offer refunds in these situations. This is their choice and is not a legal right.

Refund methods

Businesses will often give a refund to consumers the same way that they paid. They won’t give the refund in cash unless that’s how it was paid.

Businesses may not have cash available, even if a consumer paid cash originally. In this case, they must give the refund in another form.  Businesses may offer replacement items, exchanges or credit notes instead of a refund.

Consumers can insist on a refund if a consumer guarantee entitles them to one.  In most cases, a business cannot place fees or conditions on a refund or exchange. This includes restocking fees.

They can only place fees or conditions on a refund if they:

  • aren’t legally required to give the refund
  • clearly display the terms in writing, in store or on the receipt.

Refunds when a business changes owners

A new owner of a business doesn’t have to give consumers a refund unless they actually made the sale.  Sometimes, the new owner does take responsibility for repairing faulty products. In this case you should check with the business.  Consumers can talk to the manufacturer if the retailer doesn’t help.

When products do not work as they should the manufacturer may need to look at the product.  It is the businesses duty to return products to the manufacturer for repair. A business cannot tell a consumer to deal with the manufacturer, even if the product is under a warranty against defects.

If the store cannot arrange repairs within a reasonable time, the consumer can:

  • get someone else to repair the product and ask the store to pay the costs
  • ask for a refund or replacement.

'No refund' signs

‘No refunds’ signs are illegal.

Businesses must not deny consumers’ legal rights. Consumers are entitled to a refund, repair, replacement or repeat service if goods or services do not meet a consumer guarantee.

Businesses do not have to display any signs about their refund policy. However, if they do, the signs must not be misleading.

Signs should not make statements such as:

  • ‘no refunds on sale items’
  • ‘no refunds after seven days’
  • ‘exchange, repair or credit only’
  • ‘no returns on swimwear’.

If you see an illegal sign, discuss the issue with the business. If you are not satisfied with their response, report it to us by completing our online complaint form.

Refunds on sales items

Consumers have the same legal refund rights on sale items as they would have on full-price products.  Businesses cannot take away these rights by claiming they have a ‘no refund’ policy for sale items, or displaying a ‘no refund’ sign.

If a product is on sale because it is faulty, a consumer cannot claim a refund for the problem if the business informed them of it before the sale.

Seconds and samples

Consumers have the same refund rights on seconds and samples as they would have on full-price products.

However, they cannot claim a refund for problems that:

  • the business told them about
  • they should have noticed when examining the product
  • were indicated in photos or the item description on the website.

Factory outlet items

Consumers have the same legal refund rights at a factory outlet as they would in a normal store.

The factory outlet cannot take away these rights by claiming they have a ‘no refund’ policy or displaying a ‘no refund’ sign.

Second hand items from a business

When buying second hand items from a business, consumers have the same legal refund rights as they would with a new item.

However, they cannot claim a refund for problems that:

  • the business told them about
  • they should have noticed when examining the item
  • were indicated in photos or the item description on the website.

Second hand items from a private seller

The Australian Consumer Law does not apply when a consumer buys from a private seller.  This is called a consumer-to-consumer transaction.

Returning goods

A consumer can return goods that:

  • are faulty
  • does not do what it is supposed to
  • do not look acceptable
  • are unsafe
  • breaks down before it would be expected to.

Consumers can seek compensation for damages and loss caused by a product or service.  This is in addition to the consumer guarantees for repair, replacement or refund.

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