Know your rights when it comes to returns
One of the advantages of having the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Matt Kean as our local MP is that we also get to pick his brains about consumer rights when it comes to returning goods to a store.
Over Christmas Australian consumers hit the shops and spend up big. Buying and giving gifts is the essence of Christmas but there are always a few gifts that don’t quite hit the mark. Maybe you got some ugly socks from Aunty Sue or clothes that don’t fit you from your Mother. If you’re planning to take back some unwanted presents this January, it is important you know your rights as a consumer.
Member for Hornsby Matt Kean MP has taken on the role as Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation over the last year and has been working hard to put consumers first.
“I believe businesses should be doing everything they can to look after the consumer,” Mr Kean said.
Minister Kean has had a number of Consumers First reforms passed by Parliament including changes to the rules for gift cards and cracking down on ticket scalping.
These reforms introduced by the NSW Government will ensure consumers have more money in their pockets.
“This is particularly important for families in Hornsby because life is busy and expensive. The NSW State Government wants to be able give consumers more money to put food on the table and do the things you enjoy.”
The Department of Fair Trading is your go-to when it comes to all your rights as a consumer. We talked to them about what to expect when you wish to return an item you or someone else has purchased.
Consumers are not automatically entitled to a refund if they simply change their mind or later discover they picked the wrong colour or size. However, many large retailers have generous, hassle-free refund policies. They may refund your money or offer an exchange even though they are not legally required to do so. You should always check the retailer’s refund policy before making a purchase.
Most products purchased in Australia come with automatic guarantees that they will work and do what you asked for. What you are entitled to depends on the nature of the fault. If you have a minor problem with a product, the business can choose to provide a repair at no charge, a replacement, or refund. For major problems, you have the right to ask for your choice of a replacement or refund.
Under DFT guidelines, a 'major fault' is one where the product is unsafe, faulty and cannot be remedied, or if the goods are not as they were described in advertising or packaging Depending on the reason for return, a retailer cannot limit a consumer’s options to a credit note, unless it is due to a change of mind. Credit notes provided due to a change of mind would be limited to the retailer’s refund policy.
Businesses are obliged to provide a proof of transaction to consumers for goods or services valued at $75 or more. Should a consumer request a receipt for a transaction under $75, the business must provide this within seven days. Other documents can be used in lieu of a receipt, such as credit card or debit card statements, confirmation or receipt number provided for a telephone or internet transaction, or lay-by agreements.
A staggering 34 million gift cards are sold across Australia every year, with most offering a 12- month expiry date. However, up to 8% of those gift cards sold are never used - which means consumers are losing up to $ 600 million each year. Legislation has been passed by the NSW State Parliament that will mean all gift cards sold in NSW will have a mandatory three year expiry date. This is effective from March 31.
Remember Fair Trading is always there to help. If you are not happy with your shopping experience and are unable to resolve your issues with the trader, you are advised to lodge a written complaint with NSW Fair Trading at www.fairtrading.nsw. gov.au.