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Unwanted Gifts and Return Policies: How Australian Consumer Law Impacts Your Christmas Returns

By 9 January 2014Consumer Law
Unwanted Gifts and Return Policies: How Australian Consumer Law Impacts Your Christmas Returns
Previously at LawBuddy, we have written on consumer law in regards to when you can return an item that has been purchased. December and January are typically the months of unwanted gifts and looking up return policies.

Changing Your Mind

The guarantees noted in the article above cannot be excluded, watered down or ignored by a retailer in Australia. Unfortunately, under Australian Consumer Law, a retailer does not have to refund or repair an item simply because it was an unwanted gift, or you have changed your mind. However, a large amount of retailers offer returns policies that go above and beyond the requirements of Australian Consumer Law. Places like Big W, Kmart, and Target all offer a change of mind returns policy.

Repair or Replacement

If an article fails to be of a merchantable quality, depending on the level of deficiency you may be entitled to either a refund or repair. For minor problems, you are required to accept the option to repair a product should the retailer offer it. If a problem with a product is major, you are entitled to a refund of the money paid for the product, in the same form that it was originally paid for (for example, you are to be refunded cash if you paid for the item in cash).

A major fault is:

  • a problem that if known about, would have to 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.

Returning Your Item

Returning an unwanted gift can be difficult if the retailer does not go above what is required from it by law. However other options exist that allow you to offload that unwanted gift where a retailers returns policy makes a refund impossible. Online sale sites such as Gumtree and eBay can allow you to recoup some of the prices of the item, and provide a more cost-efficient solution to your problem that simply binning the gift.

Should a retailer fail to accept a refund or return where it is required to under Australian Consumer Law, or it fails to honour their return policies, you should contact the Office of Fair Trading.