Australian Consumer Law and change of mind policies - What are my rights in 2020?

Bargain Boss

The busy Christmas shopping period has already commenced, and with it comes the post-Christmas rush to return unnecessary purchases. Often people buy items thinking they can just exchange or refund them if they change their mind, however, this isn’t always the case. In many circumstances, a store does not have to provide a refund, exchange or credit note simply because a customer changes their mind.

What could fall under change of mind? Many things, but put simply, the customer no longer wants the product at no fault of the product itself, the store and/or manufacturer. This could be because they didn’t try it on and do not like how it fits, it is the wrong size, they no longer like the colour, it was an unwanted gift, they found it cheaper somewhere else, they ordered the wrong item, it has since gone on sale, they simply do not need/want it, etc.  

Whilst some stores may still choose to offer a refund, exchange or credit note for change of mind returns, this would be a good will gesture by that store. They are choosing to go above and beyond what they are required to do under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which is the legislation containing the information on consumer warranties and returns. Many stores create their own change of mind refund policy, to keep their customer’s happy and in hopes they will return - so it is a good idea to ask the staff prior to purchasing what their return policy is. If they have their own in-store policy, they must abide by it as that becomes a condition of the sale. Often the policy will be in writing near the registers, on their website, or on the bottom of a sales receipt – which a staff member can often check prior to a purchase being made, if they aren’t sure of what the store policy is.

Where a store has a change of mind return policy, the store is allowed to specify their own rules relating to the return of change of mind goods. These rules may be around the timeframe for the return, the condition of the goods being returned (e.g. in the original box, unworn, tags attached, etc.), whether it would be a refund, exchange or credit note that would be provided, if sale items can be returned, etc. These rules only relate to the store’s change of mind policy, and cannot take away from the consumer’s rights under the ACL. For example, while a store can specify that they do not allow change of mind returns on sale items, this condition would not be allowed if the item was being returned for reasons under the ACL.

For further information relating to the ACL, please check out either the ACCC or your State’s Office of Fair Trading website.  

Disclaimer: The author is not a financial advisor and the information provided is general in nature and was prepared for information purposes only. This article should not be considered to constitute financial advice. Accordingly, reliance should not be placed on this article as the basis for making an investment, financial or other decision. This information does not take into account your investment objectives, particular needs or financial situation.

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