Consumer rights for Christmas shopping

As the 25th of December rapidly approaches, we often find ourselves frantically trying to complete our last minute Christmas shopping.

Now imagine this.

You finish all your shopping by 10:30pm Christmas Eve and all presents are wrapped and under the tree by midnight.

However, as you eagerly hand out all of your presents Christmas morning, you notice an uncomfortable silence. Your little cousin has just opened his present and the action figure is significantly damage. While you don’t recall seeing this defect last night, you do recall seeing a store sign which said “No refunds or returns on sale items”.

As the action figure was a sale item, what are you meant to do now?

Fortunately, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) does offer some protection.

What is the ACL?

The Australian Consumer Law sets out consumer rights that are called consumer guarantees. These include your rights to a repair, replacement or refund as well as compensation for damages and loss and being able to cancel a faulty service.

What are my Consumer Guarantees?

The ACL creates a legal obligation whereby a supplier and a manufacturer guarantee that:

  • goods are of an acceptable quality;
  • goods will match any description provided;
  • any express warranties will be honoured.

Similarly, the supplier guarantees that a consumer is buying goods:

  • that have clear title, unless otherwise stated;
  • that do not have undisclosed securities;
  • that are fit for the disclosed purpose;
  • with a right to undisputed possession;
  • that match the sample or demonstration model provided.

Finally, the manufacturer guarantees the availability of repairs and spare parts (other than for auctioned goods.

What if the Consumer Guarantee is not met?

If a guarantee is not met, a consumer has rights against the supplier, and in some cases the manufacturer, who will have to provide a “remedy’ in order to put right a fault, deficiency or failure to meet an obligation.

If a supplier fails to meet a guarantee, the remedy may be:

  • a repair, replacement or refund;
  • cancellation of a service;
  • compensation for damages and loss.

“No refunds or returns on sale items?”

Simply, signs that state “no refund’ are unlawful, because they imply it is not possible to get a refund under any circumstance – even when there is a major problem with the goods.

Please note that a sign that states “no refunds will be given if you have simply change your mind” are acceptable.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

Refund‘ by Mike Cohen via Flickr. CC BY 2.0.