What are your rights to a refund, repair or replacement?

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When we purchase a product in-store, online or from a second-hand seller, we’d like to make the right choice first time around. However, for whatever reason, sometimes this doesn’t work out. Whether the item you’ve purchased in-store, online or second-hand is faulty, fails to do what it’s supposed to or you’ve simply changed your mind, what are your rights to a refund?

Whether your purchase is something new or second-hand, the guidelines set out by the Australian Consumer Law are there to protect your interests. If you bought anything after 1 January 2011, new laws entitle you to a repair, replacement or refund if the item:

  • is faulty or defective
  • is unfit for its specified purpose
  • doesn’t match the sample or description.

Businesses are obliged follow these guidelines. Unfortunately, since many sales assistants are inadequately trained in Australian consumer law, consumers’ refund or replacement requests are often refused.

A business can legitimately refuse to repair, refund or replace a product if you:

  • simply change your mind
  • misuse the product and caused the problem
  • have a problem with a product or service that was completely out of the business’s control.

So, if you’ve bought a dress and the zip breaks during reasonable use, you’re entitled to take it back. But if you were climbing a tree when the zip broke, the onus is on you. By the same token, if you just bought a piece of fruit and it’s rotten inside, you can take it back.

When consumers are unable to reach a reasonable agreement about their product with the seller, they’re encouraged to contact the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Other things to know:

  • products don’t have to be returned in the original packaging
  • refund rights apply even if the product was on sale, second-hand or bought online
  • the business can ask you to pay for minor repair costs
  • the person who bought the product doesn’t need to be the one returning it
  • refund rights apply to gifts as long as there is proof of purchase.

Head to www.choice.com.au to find out more.

Have you ever had a problem trying to return an item or been denied a refund?


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Written by ameliath


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