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Refunds and returns, what are my rights?

in Business Law by James Naughton on
Refunds and returns, what are my rights?

It can be disappointing to open a Christmas present or nab a Boxing Day bargain to find that it doesn’t meet expectations. It either doesn’t work, fit, or does what it is supposed to do.

Every time you buy goods and services, there are guarantees under Commonwealth or State law that you can rely upon for protection.

When you buy a product or service in Australia, it comes with a guarantee imposed by law that the product will work and be as described by the seller. Businesses must guarantee the products they sell that cost less than $40,000. Some products over $40,000 are also guaranteed, if purchased for personal or household use. The consumer guarantees can also apply to services that you receive from businesses in Australia.

The purchased product has to be of acceptable quality. That means that the product has to be

  • Safe
  • Properly made
  • Do the things that you would normally expect the product to do; and
  • Match the description that was provided to you

In other words, the product needs to be of a quality that you would normally expect, taking into account the type of product and the cost of the product.

Repair, replacement or refund

If the product does not work, you may be entitled to ask for a repair, a replacement product or a refund.  If there is a minor issue with the product, such as a small defect that can be fixed with a repair, the business can choose to make that repair instead of giving you a replacement or a full refund. If there is a major problem with the product, for example, the product is unsafe, or is very different from the description that was provided to you, then you can ask for a replacement or a refund. This also applies for the product can’t be easily repaired.

‘No refunds’

You might see ‘No Refunds’ signs in retailers or shops, or a shop might tell you that it will only provide store credit instead of a refund.  It is against the law for a business not to give you a refund if your product has a major problem.

However ‘no refunds’ for change of mind is allowed. The consumer guarantees do not apply simply because you changed your mind, or if you have found the same product cheaper elsewhere. While some retailers will accept change of mind returns, they are not obliged to, unless the product has a major or minor problem.


If you feel like your complaint is not being responded to, then you can contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) or Fair Trading or consumer affairs department in your State. They may be able to help you resolve your complaint.

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