“Absolutely no returns or exchanges on sale items.” It’s a firm warning for any bargain hunter – but it’s also B.S.
If you bought a faulty product anywhere in Australia, any time after 1 January, 2011, you can take it back and ask for a free repair, replacement or refund.
No one likes arguing with sales assistants. No one wants to be seen as being impolite, but unfortunately, plenty of retail staff haven’t been adequately trained in Australian consumer law. This means that even when you’re entitled to return something, you may be refused.
Because no one likes to be seen as impolite, it’s not that hard to get customers – especially young women – to back away from returning an item by citing ‘store policy’.
But ‘store policy’ can never trump Australian law.
If you bought something and it broke, or it doesn’t work, don’t give up on getting that refund or replacement.
Instead, draw the store manager’s attention to what happened to Harvey Norman last week when they refused to honour consumers’ rights.
Four franchises across Australia were forced to pay almost $100,000 in fines because “a number of different Harvey Norman franchisees across the country had led consumers into believing that contrary to the law, they weren’t entitled to a refund, a replacement or a remedy for damaged goods,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chairman Michael Schaper said.
This rule doesn’t just apply to white goods.
If you bought a frock and it broke during reasonable use (that’s day-to-day running around – not scaling fences and doing back flips like a spy) you can take it back.
If you bought a bottle of foundation and it curdled or started to smell, you can take it back.
If your jumper is pilling after a couple of washes, you can take it back.
If you bought a pair of heels and the strap snapped off – you can take them back.
And yes – even if it’s swimmers or undies or a piece of fruit that’s rotten inside and you only just bought it, if there’s something wrong with it, you can take it back.
This also applies to online purchases that are faulty, although it can be much harder to hold international companies accountable for returns. But it’s still worth sending off a few firm emails – with the ACCC CC’d in.
Changing your mind is a different story. If you’ve decided you don’t like something, then whether or not you can return it is at the store’s discretion. If you are prone to changing your mind, it’s worth being loyal to stores that have generous return and exchange policies. Just ask before you buy.
If you’re not sure about your rights when it comes to buying goods and services, there’s plenty of helpful, easy to understand information on the ACCC website.
Have you ever been told you can’t return a faulty product? Share your story here.