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Your rights with refunds and exchanges

Christmas gifts
The Office of Fair Trading has reminded consumers of their rights to return gifts and sale items.

Regret grabbing that item in this year’s Boxing Day sales, or thinking of exchanging an unwanted present you received from a distant relative?

Then the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) wants to remind you about your consumer rights.

Acting Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Dr Anthony Lynham said under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) people have rights when it comes to faulty products or services, but not for a change of mind.

“Under the ACL you are automatically covered by a number of consumer guarantees,” Dr Lynham said.

“These include acceptable quality, acceptable appearance and finish, no defects, and the product must be safe and durable, as well as fit for purpose.

“If a product or service you buy in Australia fails one of these consumer guarantees, you may be entitled to some kind of remedy.

“They must also match the description, sample or demonstration model and comply with any extra promises the seller makes, such as what you can use the goods for.”

Dr Lynham said if there is a minor problem with a product or service, the business can choose to give the consumer a free repair instead of a replacement or refund.

“If you have a major problem with a product, you have the right to ask for your choice of a replacement or refund,” he said.

“However, if you change your mind, don’t like a gift you were given, or the problem is caused by misusing the product, you are not entitled to a remedy.”

Dr Lynham said many stores offer refunds and exchanges for changes of mind for a certain time period as a gesture of goodwill.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has the following tips for shoppers:

  • Remember retailers aren’t legally obliged to exchange or refund items if you change your mind and different retailers may have different policies around exchanges.
  • Keep your receipts as this helps streamline the process if you do need to seek a refund or exchange.
  • If a product is faulty, damaged or dangerous you may be entitled to a remedy such as a refund, replacement or repair.
  • If you’re claiming a refund or replacement because the product was faulty, you don’t need the original packaging.
  • “No refunds on sale items” signs are illegal – consumers still have rights whether an item is on sale or not.

If you believe you are entitled to a refund for Christmas gifts or remedy, consumers are advised to approach the business in the first instance and try to resolve the issue.

Failing that they are encouraged to lodge a complaint with the OFT online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

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