Important to Know your Rights as a Consumer
The RMB Compensation Division explains the importance of consumers understanding their rights in relation to returns policies and faulty goods.
It is not entirely uncommon to find retail stores that have return policies which state “no refunds or exchanges”.
However, such policies often fail to tell customers that they have rights under the Australian Consumer Law (“the ACL”) which cannot be removed simply because the store has a certain policy.
The ACL strictly prohibits retailers form removing certain rights which protect consumers. Such protections apply to ensure that:
- The product is of acceptable quality. This means that a product must be acceptable in appearance and finish, free from defects, safe and durable. You can return the product if it is damaged (even if only cosmetically), not operating properly, or breaks after a short time of use (provided the use is in accordance with instructions).
- The product is fit for its purpose. A product must be fit for a purpose for which the item is generally used, or is fit for a purpose which is disclosed to a salesperson who then sells the item knowing your intended use. If the product is unsuitable for the purpose, it can be returned for either refund or exchange.
- The product matches its description (or is “as described”). If a product is different from its description you can return the item. This is a particularly important protection if ordering an item from a catalogue or buying online, where you have not physically seen the product before purchase.
- A product must correspond to the quality, state and condition of the display model. Were you shown a sample product or display model in the store and see how it worked so well, only to get home and be deeply disappointed? You are entitled to return the product for a refund or exchange.
The above protections apply regardless of what you are told by the salesperson. In fact, it is illegal for you to be told that you are not protected by the Australian Consumer Law.
If you have issues or problems in returning a product, you should contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Alternatively, the state regulator (e.g. NSW Fair Trading) may also be able to assist you.
Of course, in situations where you cannot resolve the matter yourself and with the assistance of the ACCC, you always have the option of seeking legal advice.