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Know your consumer rights if you have to return or exchange Christmas gifts

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Christmas has come and gone once again and Australians spent billions of dollars on gifts. But what are your rights as a customer if you need to return to the store to get a refund or an exchange?

You will be pleased to know that you are protected by Australian Consumer Law.

This means you are entitled to a refund, free repair or replacement if the product doesn’t match the description, doesn’t work or doesn’t perform in the way it is supposed to perform.

Unfortunately, there may be some retailers who will try to skirt the law and deny a customer their basic rights.

Keep an eye out for stores that display a No Refund sign – they’re actually breaking the law by showing that.

And don’t let them give you the run-around.

The store can’t direct you to take up the issue with the manufacturer.

The place where you purchased the product is required to handle the problem itself.

And, don’t worry, the faulty product doesn’t have to be returned in its original packaging.

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Here are some tips to help you stick up for your rights as a customer:

– Even if a store displays a “No Refund” sign it is meaningless – it’s actually against the law to display such a sign.

– If a product isn’t of acceptable quality, the retailer can’t charge you to fix it.

– Retailers can’t just refer you to the manufacturer. You are the store’s customer and they must act on your behalf.

– If the fault is “major”, you can ask for a refund or replacement rather than just a repair.

– If you have a bulky item like a TV or appliance that needs repair or replacement, the retailer should pay the transportation costs.

– You should be informed if a replacement is second-hand or if refurbished parts have been used.

– Repairs must be made within a reasonable time – in days, not weeks.

– You can still return a faulty product even if you still don’t have the original packaging.

– If you’ve lost a receipt you can still show proof of purchase with a credit card statement, confirmation or receipt number from an Internet or phone transaction.

– Extended warranties are often not necessary as they may not cover much more than the Australian Consumer Law.

– Check the store’s refund or exchange policy before you buy the item. Some larger stores may give you a credit note or offer an exchange even if you change your mind.

– If you think you are entitled to a refund but the retailer still refuses to give you one, contact the Office of Fair Trading in your state or territory.

When is it NOT possible to get a refund or replacement:

– If you’ve misused the item and broken it as a result of that misuse.

– If you’ve simply changed your mind.

– If you’ve seen it cheaper elsewhere.