Boomerangs Make Good Christmas Presents

Boomerangs Make Good Christmas Presents

Western Australia Minister for Commerce Simon O’Brien

Christmas: A Time Of Giving And Returning Gifts

Victor P Taffa

Commerce Minister Simon O’Brien said while Christmas was a time of giving, post-Christmas is when Consumer Protection received a spike in consumer complaints with regard to gift returns and refunds.

During last year’s post-Christmas period, Consumer Protection’s Contact Centre received more than 1,400 enquiries from customers about their rights when returning Christmas presents. A similar response was expected this year.

“There may be some confusion about consumers’ rights when it comes to returning gifts.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Clearly if a product is faulty or not fit for its intended purpose then the retailer has a legal obligation to offer the consumer a remedy in the form of a repair, replacement or refund.”

“However, if it’s the wrong colour or wrong size or you got the same gift twice, then it’s entirely up to the store’s discretion as to whether they will exchange it or offer a refund or store credit.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“Almost half of Australians will buy technology gifts this year. Be sure you know the model or specifications before you make this sort of purchase. Again, wrong choice will not entitle you to an exchange or money back.”

“Refunds are only available if goods turn out to be faulty, different from a sample shown, not as described in advertising or not fit for the intended purpose. In these circumstances you are entitled to a refund even if the item was on sale.”

“It’s reasonable for the store to want to see the receipt as proof of purchase so consumers will need to get that from the person who gave them the gift.  We recommend keeping the receipts for all Christmas purchases because, without a receipt, the consumer must rely on the retailer’s goodwill.” Mr. O’Brien said.

“The store is more likely to agree if the gift is returned with its original packaging so we suggest that this is kept for a short time after Christmas.  If the product is faulty, however, the lack of packaging should never be a reason for a retailer not offering the consumer a remedy.”

The Minister said it was illegal for businesses to display signs which said things like ‘no refunds’ or ‘replacement or store credit only’.  A retailer could not put a time limit on a purchaser’s entitlement to a refund either, which meant that signs stating ‘no returns after seven days’ or ’28-day refund policy’ also broke the fair trading law.

“If people have received gift vouchers as Christmas presents, it’s important that they check the terms and conditions and redeem it before the expiry date. Gift vouchers are like cash if you lose it, you can’t claim it so keep it in a secure place until you are ready to go shopping.” Mr. O’Brien said.