Refund Laws in Australia, When is a Refund Available?
On any purchase of goods or services on or after the 1st of January 2011, you are covered by Australian Consumer Law. This law empowers a consumer with certain rights and guarantees when purchasing goods or services, mainly that they be of merchantable quality.
Should a product not be of merchantable quality, you may be entitled to either a refund, repair or a replacement, depending on the extent of the problem with the goods purchased.
What is a Major Problem?
A major problem with an item is
- a problem that if known about, would have prevent you from purchasing the product,
- a problem that causes the item to be unsafe
- when a product or item substantially deviates from the sample item, display item or description of the item
- when an item does not work as the business told you it would, or what you asked for it to do, and this cannot be easily fixed.
Approaching the Retailer v Approaching the Manufacturer
If you approach the retailer of the goods or service you have purchased, they cannot refuse to assist you and send you to the manufacturer. The retailer must, if applicable provide you with the refund, repair or replacement that you are entitled to. It is then the retailers responsibility to contact the manufacturer.
If you choose instead to approach the manufacturer of the goods, they will only be able to provide you with a monetary solution. They can provide you with money to compensate you for any reduction in value your item has suffered, and in some cases compensation you for damages or loss.
A Right to Repair
For a minor problem, you are required to accept the repair of an item should the business offer one. If you do not receive the repair within a reasonable amount of time, you may either
- Have the item repaired elsewhere, passing the costs on to the business, or
- ask for a refund, or
- ask for a replacement, or
- recover the difference in the items current value compared to the purchase price.
If you are having an item repaired and it is capable of retaining user data, you must be issued with a repair notice. This notice will inform you of a potential loss of data on the device, and recommend that you back that device up.
If a repairer is using refurbished parts to repair your item, or is replacing your item with a refurbished item, you must be provided with a different repair notice. This notice will read,
“Goods presented for repair may be replaced by refurbished goods of the same type rather than being repaired. Refurbished parts may be used to repair the goods.”
A replacement product is an available remedy when a problem with a product is major. A replacement product must be identical to the product that you are having replaced.
A refund is available if the product possesses a major problem. A refund should be
- Totalling the same amount that you have paid (this may be the full or partial price of the item), and
- In the same form of payment (for example if you paid in cash, the refund should be in cash).
Things to know
- You require a receipt of purchase if you wish to have an item repaired, refunded or replaced. This can include a credit card statement, a lay-by agreement or a confirmation or receipt number if the purchase was online.
- A “No refunds under any circumstances” or ” No refunds on sale items” sign is against the law and may be ignored for the purposes of obtaining a refund, replacement or a repair.
- Your consumer rights do not expire with the warranty, your rights can persist after a warranty has expired.
- You are not required to return goods in the same package they came in.
A refund, repair or replacement is not available for goods if:
- you have changed your mind about the purchase of goods,
- you have contributed to the problem by misuse or mistreatment of the goods,
- you were aware of, or had been made aware of, the faults with the goods before purchasing,
- If the item is worth more than $40,000 and is used for business, is machinery, or is being used as farming equipment,
It is best to contact the Office of Fair Trading should a dispute arise. The Office of Fair Trading will refrain from giving you detailed legal advice. Should you require legal advice it is best to seek a lawyer as soon as practicable.