Taking back a gift that is broken or not quite what you wanted should be your refund right.
But do the rules change from store to store?
It’s always disappointing to discover that, once the wrapping comes off, some of the presents you received or gifted are simply not right - faulty perhaps, or just not suitable.More stories from Today Tonight
Be they the wrong size, colour or style, or just late to arrive, it’s important to know what your rights are when it comes to returning the goods and getting a refund, exchange or credit.
According to Rod Sims, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman, “there are rights (consumers have) now that effectively they didn't have a year ago. These are rights you have whether you buy in Darwin or Dandenong.”
Whether they’re unwanted, unsuitable, or just plain faulty gifts, at least one out of ten of the goods bought in-store will be returned.
“It means you have a much better chance of enforcing your rights this Christmas to get the repair, or the refund, or the replacement good.”
But retailers won't always give back what you want or should get.
Products purchased online cause even bigger disappointments. An eBay/Gumtree study reveals that half of us received at least one online present we just don't want - that's almost 17 million products.
Onlines sites are now choc-full of unwanted gift bargains, as 30 per cent of people try to sell their rejects.
A recent survey of more than 1500 people undertaken by Choice has also found that one in five of us has received gifts that aren't up to scratch or aren't suitable.
As Choice’s Ingrid Just sees it “it's quite remarkable. Australians spend on average $35 billion per year on Christmas gifts, and around about $750 million of that is spent on unwanted gifts.
“Some of the unwanted gifts might be bubble bath, popcorn makers, kitchen gadgets, soaps, ornamental soaps, foot spas, mini golf sets.”
When it comes to unwanted goods, the rules are not quite so black and white.
“If you buy a good and you change or mind, or you don't particularly want the good after you've bought it, or you give the good to somebody and they decide they don't like it, I'm afraid the law does not help you there. You're in the hands of the goodwill of the firm you bought it from,” Sims said.
The laws on refunds were toughened up a year ago but simply changing your mind, or not liking a product, doesn't give you any rights over retailers, even though, through goodwill, many will allow you to return goods no matter what.
“They have no legal obligation to repair, replace or give you a refund in that particular circumstance.”
For landscape architect, Georgia Falconer it isn't a case of changing her mind. Falconer bought hunter gumboots from a British online store, ordering a blue patterned pair and sending a photo. She paid $80, plus $15 postage, amounting to $95 in total.
They sent one blue boot, and one in a discoloured yellowish tone.
“All they had to do was check the boots before they came to Australia, and none of this problem would never have happened,” Falconer said.
Falconer sent the boots back, paying another $40 in postage, and expecting a full refund.
“They gave me 80 dollars for the boots, so in the end I was out $45,” she said.
Despite the fact that she should have received a full refund for postage too, as it was their mistake.
“It's really hard to get a refund when you're dealing with people online,” Falconer said.
According to Sims, “the only trick with online traders is that if they are supplying you completely offshore, the ability to get remedies offshore can be tricky.”
But unlike change of mind, if a product's faulty or misrepresented, the store is at fault and you do have full return rights.
“If the good doesn't match what you thought you were buying, particularly if you ask for something that's red and you get something that's blue, that's very straight forward. You're entitled to ask for the original colour or get a refund.”
Lynn Semjaniv, Target's Head of Corporate Affairs says even if you change your mind, Target will oblige.
For the retailer “it's all about making it easy for customers to get an exchange or refund.
“Target is always happy to do an exchange or refund on unwanted gifts,” Semjaniv said.
The big five - Target, Big W, David Jones, Myer and Kmart - all allow returns if you change your mind. But if you want a cash refund, they'll want proof of purchase – either your register receipt, bank statement or a signed warranty.
“Customers can of course get a cash refund for unwanted gifts if they bring in a receipt. If they don't have their receipt then we will give them an exchange coupon for the current selling price,” Semjaniv said.
“I think it gives (customers) confidence to buy at a store that does have very flexible refund and exchange policy, like Target, because they've got the confidence that if it isn't quite right, they can get a refund or an exchange.”
If you're heading for the New Year sales, it pays to check the stores’ return policy before you buy. And don't forget to keep your receipts for cash refunds.Contact details
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