After looking into online policies of large retailers, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), found some retailers may be misleading consumers about their rights with respect to faulty products under the Australian Consumer Law.
“This year the ACCC has received over 750 complaints regarding consumer guarantees for clothing purchases,” said ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper. “We are reviewing the policies of retailers at busy times such as Click Frenzy, in the lead up to Christmas and during the Boxing Day sales period.”
Schaper said if customers are looking to return faulty goods after this week’s Click Frenzy online shopping event, the ACL gives them the right to choose between a refund or replacement if a product they have purchased has a major fault, even for sale and clearance items.
“If a product has a minor fault, retailers can choose to provide a free repair instead of a refund or replacement,” Schaper said.
The ACCC is engaging directly with 12 retailers to ask them to amend their online returns policies to avoid confusing or misleading consumers.
“Businesses must ensure the rights of consumers are honoured when they try to return a faulty product,” Schaper said. “Retailers must not misrepresent the consumer law and the rights of their customers in the wording and advertising of their returns’ policies. We will take further action if a retailer is not fulfilling its legal obligations under consumer law.”
According to Schaper, misleading representations regarding online refunds and returns are one of the most complained about issues reported to the ACCC.
“Already this year, the ACCC has received over 24,000 contacts about consumers guarantees so it is important for us warn the retail sector and educate consumers as we enter the busiest shopping period of the year,” he said.
“Retailers cannot refuse to give you a refund, repair or replacement because you bought the item on sale or at a clearance store unless they brought the fault to your attention before you bought the item,” the watchdog stated.
The ACCC added that signs stating ‘No Refunds’ or ‘No refunds or exchanges on sale items’ are unlawful and do not alter consumer rights under the ACL or prevent them from applying.
“Retailers cannot restrict the period in which you can get a remedy for faulty products,” it said. “You have a right to a remedy for a reasonable amount of time after buying the item. This period can last longer than any express warranty period given to you when you purchased the item.”
The ACCC said, however, retailers do not have to give consumers refunds or exchanges if he or she got what he or she asked for but simply changed his or her mind.
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