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Knowing your refund rights after the Christmas shopping rush

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We spent a lot of money on tech and other gadgets over the Christmas period but some are finding they need to take things back to the store for a refund or an exchange so it pays to know your rights.

Shoppers have the protection of Australian Consumer Law which means customers are entitled to a refund or replacement if it doesn’t match the description, doesn’t do what it says it can do or repair if the product is faulty.

“It’s not uncommon to be greeted by a no refund sign when seeking to return a faulty product but the advice is simply – ignore it and insist on your right to a refund, replacement or repair,” says Choice spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

“Don’t let the retailer pass the buck, even if the item is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty the retailer can’t duck their responsibility – if they sold you the faulty product they have to honour your right to a refund, replacement or repair.”

“If you received a gift that is broken or does not work as it is meant to you have the same rights as if you had purchase the product yourself.”

“It’s also important to remember the same person who purchased the product doesn’t have to be the one to return it. You just need proof of purchase such as a receipt, or even the retailer’s swing tag.”

And these laws apply whether you purchased the goods in a store or online.

Customers are advised not to be discouraged by a “NO REFUND” sign hanging in stores. These signs are actually illegal.

But simply changing your mind about an item or not liking the colour is not grounds to be granted a refund.

Here are Choice’s tips for refunds and exchanges:

* You don’t need the original packaging but you do need proof of purchase, such as a receipt, credit card statement or swing tag. Take the product back to the store or return it to the online retailer as soon as possible.

* If the item you purchased from an online website is faulty, the on-line retailer should pay for the cost of posting the item back.

* If you received a gift that was faulty you can ask for the refund in cash even if the person who bought the gift purchased it by credit card – you don’t have to accept a store voucher just because someone else paid for it on their card.

* Don’t let the store brush you off by saying you have to deal with the manufacturer – the store where you bought the item must sort the problem out for you.

* 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.

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