Shopper's frustration over being denied refund despite 'perfect condition'

Aussies have shared the frustrating moments they were refused refunds.

Aussie refund laws have been called out after a shopper was denied a refund at her local store despite it being in "perfect condition" — highlighting the common confusion around consumer rights in Australia.

The woman had bought a $55 portable phone charger from an electronic shop at Joondalup Shopping Centre in Perth, but got home and discovered her husband already had one. Four days later, receipt in tow, the woman went back to return the item only for them to say no.

"They have a policy of no refunds even though it's brand new, unopened and I spoke to the exact same salesperson," she shared online in bewilderment. "They have a little printed-out sign saying that they choose not to do refunds [which] was news to me because I just assumed that it was the law for all Australian businesses to do refunds."

Left: The woman in a video complaining about getting no refund. Right: A shopping mall. Source: TikTok/Getty
A woman was stunned to be denied a refund for a product returned in perfect order. Source: TikTok/Getty

The shopper continued that she had never been refused a refund for something that was in perfect condition so the situation "blew her mind", and people were quick to respond with their similar, frustrating incidents.

"My husband bought me a dress from some place called Flower when I was pregnant, [but] it was so heavy I asked if I could take it back. Half an hour we were back, and they said no but you could return it if you had bought it online. I was so angry," one person shared.

"This happened to me at JB, apparently they have a policy of no refunds/exchanges for headsets and like... Girl it didn't fit what??" another exclaimed.

Others were quick to point out that change of mind refunds had "never" been the law. "I have no idea why everyone thinks this is a law? This has never been the case, choose your purchases more carefully," a commenter said.

Consumers are not entitled to a refund for 'changing their mind'

The store allegedly ended up offering a store credit instead of a refund but, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the business has no obligation to offer even that.

Consumers are entitled to a solution of a repair, replacement or refund if a product or service they buy doesn’t meet one of the basic consumer guarantee rights but are not entitled to this if "they got what they asked for but simply changed their mind, found the product cheaper somewhere else, or decided they didn't like the purchase, or had no use for it".

However, if a business has their own "change of mind" policy, they must follow it. For example, up until 2020, Woolworths had a long-standing policy allowing refunds for this reason but in September of that year changed its policy so no longer has to grant these refunds.

It is unlawful for a business to claim they do 'no refunds'?

Despite the store's right to deny this shopper a refund on this occasion, it cannot take away a consumer's right to a refund or replacement for faulty products or services, or try to override these rights through misrepresentation.

The ACCC states, as an example, policies which say "no refunds", or "no refunds or exchanges on sale items" or similar, are unlawful.

In 2022, CHOICE sent mystery shoppers to stores across the country and their results revealed that seven in 10 of these stores misrepresented consumer rights by either not clearly stating the customer had a right to a refund or replacement without buying a warranty, or by confusing the customer on what their rights are.

JB Hi-Fi is now facing a class action alleging that the extended warranties it was selling were of little or no value because customers already had the same rights for free under the Australian Consumer Law.

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