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Know your rights as a customer for exchanges and refunds

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The busiest shopping period of the year has come and gone and we’ve spent billions of dollars on gifts. But what happens when we have to return to the store to get a refund or an exchange? What are your rights as a customer?

Most people don’t realise the law is on your side and that you’re protected by Australian Consumer Law.

Customers 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.

And unfortunately some retailers who will try to skirt the law and deny a customer their basic rights.

Be wary of stores that display a No Refund sign – they’re actually breaking the law by showing that.

And if you do have an issue, don’t let the store give you the run-around.

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

The store where you purchased the product is required by law to handle the problem itself.

And it’s OK ifthe faulty product doesn’t have its original packaging.

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.