Returns: refunds, repairs and replacements
After you buy or use a product, you may identify problems with it, in other words, it does not meet a consumer guarantee.
Depending on the type of problem (also known as a failure under the Australian Consumer Law) the seller may have to provide a ‘remedy’, such as:
- a refund
- a replacement
The type of remedy you are entitled to depends on whether the problem is major or minor.
Returning faulty goods page covers who is responsible for costs incurred when returning goods.
A seller does not have to give a refund if you simply change your mind about something you bought, unless they have a store policy to offer a refund, replacement or credit note when this happens.
If a refund is warranted, then the seller must repay any money you paid for the returned goods, and return any other form of payment you made, for example, a trade-in. If this is not possible, they must refund the value of the item.
If a refund is warranted the seller must not:
- offer a credit note or exchange card instead of a refund
- refuse a refund, or reduce the amount, because the goods were not returned in original packaging or wrapping.
You may be entitled to a replacement if:
- there is a major or minor problem with the product
- the store has their own policy to provide one.
In these scenarios, the store must provide a product that is identical, or of similar value.
Your rights to a remedy apply to the replacement product in the same way as the original product.
Maya buys a new mobile phone. Due to a major problem, the store replaces it. If there is a problem with the replacement phone, Maya can take it back to the store. She has the same rights to a remedy as if it were a new mobile phone.
Generally, it is the seller’s responsibility to return products to the manufacturer for repair. This may include products that are under warranty.
If the store cannot arrange repairs (for example, because the manufacturer does not have the necessary parts) or cannot do so within a reasonable time, you can:
- get someone else to repair the product and ask the store to pay reasonable costs
- return the product and ask for a refund or replacement.
Several buttons come off Malcolm’s new shirt due to poor stitching. The tailor who made the shirt can’t supply matching buttons. Malcolm can either get someone else to repair the shirt and claim the cost from the tailor or ask for a refund or replacement.
When you do NOT have the right to return a product
Under the Australian Consumer Law, you are not entitled to return a product if there is no breach of a consumer guarantee, for example, if you:
- changed your mind
- ordered the wrong product
- found the product cheaper elsewhere
- were aware of the relevant fault before buying the product, such as if the fault was written on the tag, or indicated in the photos or item description online
- damaged the product by misusing it – for example, you dropped your mobile phone in water
- used the product for a very long time and the problem is as a result of usual wear and tear.
In some of these situations, the seller may choose to provide a remedy. They may have their own in-store refund policy – if so the seller must comply with the terms of this policy.
You also may not be able to return a product if you do not have a receipt or other proof of purchase.
Repair, replace, refund problem solver
The Austraian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) repair, replace, refund problem solver helps you understand your consumer rights and the steps you can take to resolve a problem, and provides key information about when you can use your rights.
You still have these rights, even if the goods or services come with a warranty against defects.
Use the problem solver
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