Your refund rights

When returning items it’s good to know your rights. What happens when a store simply refuses to play ball and refund your money?

Q. Colin
I recently purchased a polo shirt at a shop in Torquay, Victoria – branded ‘Slim fit size M’, which is my normal size fitting. I liked the shirt so much that I purchased two more, same brand, same size and same style at the same retailer, but in the Geelong branch. When I tried on the shirts at home I found them both to be both too large.

I took them back to the Geelong store but was refused a refund, as they were a sale item, and was told that it was exchange only and I should have tried them on in the store. I explained that it is inconvenient for me to try them on in the store due to difficulties raising my arms above shoulder height.

I then reminded them that if the goods did not match what I could reasonably expect from the information on the ticket that I was entitled to a refund. They flatly refused me any refund, even stating that the cash register was not set up to do so.

I reluctantly exchanged the two shirts, same brand and style, but one size smaller than the two which were too large, however, when I tried them on at home, I found one to be far too small, the other still too large.

Where do I go from here?

A. It’s a pity that you’ve had an unsatisfactory shopping experience. Firstly, retailers must provide a refund if the goods are unfit for purpose, even if they are on sale, unless any defects are clearly marked. You would have to prove that the goods were unfit for purpose. Retailers are not legally bound to provide a refund if you change your mind or if the item doesn’t fit, but it does need to clearly display this policy and any in-store policy does not infringe on your consumer rights.

You should return to the store with the product and again explain that the goods are not fit for purpose due to sizing issues and request a refund. If you are denied a refund, ask the salesperson or store manager to jot down on a piece of paper the reason why, ask them to sign and date, and advise them that you will be taking the matter to Consumer Affairs. Do not exchange the goods unless you are happy to do so and are confident that the items will fit properly.

If you can’t reach a satisfactory outcome with the store, you should then contact Consumer Affairs Victoria, explaining that you do not think the goods are fit for purpose, as the sizing was wrong. Advise that you have been denied a refund and ask for assistance in obtaining your money back.

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