Purchasing clothes, electronics, furniture and other household products are a daily occurrence for most people, but many of us have no idea about what to do in the event that something goes wrong and we want a product repaired, returned or replaced. The Australian Consumer Law provides many protections to consumers who purchase products that are under $40,000. The aim of this article is to inform you of your rights - in case you ever find yourself needing to return, repair or replace a product you have purchased.
When you may request a return, replacement or repair.
It is often the case that you will purchase a product and take it home only to realise that:
- it is damaged;
- it is not the same as the display model;
- it is poor quality;
- it doesn’t do what the salesperson said it would;
- you have changed your mind and don’t want it any more;
- you have found it cheaper somewhere else.
In which of these situations may you repair, replace or refund the product?
Major or Minor Faults
Generally, a product may only be repaired, replaced or refunded in the event that it has either a major or a minor fault. Depending on whether a fault in the product is determined to be major or minor, both you and the seller of the product have different actions that you may take.
A major fault is found if:
- it would render the product unsafe;
- it would have stopped you buying the product in the first place;
- the product significantly differs from the description;
- the product doesn’t do what the packaging/salesperson said it would.
If the product is subject to a major fault, then you may decide to:
- return the product and receive a full refund; or
- keep the product, and receive compensation for the difference in the value; or
- replace the product.
If the product is subject to a minor fault, the seller may choose to repair the product rather than replace or refund it.
If you are told you must have a receipt to return, replace or repair the product.
Many stores will attempt to stop you returning, replacing or repairing an item if you do not have the receipt from the original purchase. While it always a good idea to store your receipts in case you find yourself in a situation such as this, presentation of any proof of purchase will be sufficient to show you are entitled to a return, replacement or repair. Some alternatives to a receipt include:
- a credit/debit card statement;
- a photograph of the receipt;
- a barcode that is linked with the sellers sales records;
- an alternative reference number (eg. one received when making an internet payment).
If you are told products on sale may not be returned, replaced or repaired.
Sellers often state that products on sale are exempt from any returns, replacements or repairs. Regardless of store policy (eg, a sign that states ‘no returns on sale items’), the law makes no differentiation between products that are on sale and those that are not. Accordingly, you are entitled to a return, replacement or repair under the same conditions as above even if you purchased the product on sale.
When you may not request a return, replace or repair.
There are certain situations in which you may not request a return, replacement or repair. These include:
- If you have simply changed your mind and no longer want the product.
- If you have found the product cheaper somewhere else.
- If you knew (or were told) of the faults in the product when you purchased it.
- If you misused the product.
- If you purchased the item at an auction.
- If you purchased the item at a private sale (eg, a garage sale).
Remember, businesses are legally obliged to provide an appropriate remedy in the circumstance that the product contains a major or minor fault. If they refuse to do so, you may report the business to the ACCC, or alternatively get in contact with us on 03 8877 6888.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice.