Woolworths' new returns policy after toilet paper panic buying

Woolworths has announced strict changes to its returns policy in response to widespread panic buying during the coronavirus outbreak.

The supermarket has singled out several items they are restricting for change of mind returns as of Wednesday.

“We’ve made changes to our returns policy to help support more customers’ access to high-demand essential products in reasonable quantities,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

Until further notice, Woolworths will no longer provide refunds for toilet paper, tissues and paper towels if customers simply change their minds.

The revised policy also includes baby wipes, serviettes, medicinal (pain relief), cleaning goods such as anti-bacterial wipes, sprays, cleaners and disposable gloves, and feminine hygiene and incontinence products.

The notice advising Woolworths customers of limitations on certain products.
The notice advising Woolworths customers of return limitations on certain products. Source: Supplied

Food items on the list include rice, cooking oils, flour and bread mixes, pasta and pasta sauce, as well as canned food such as fish, vegetables, soup, fruit and canned meals.

The move comes days after both Coles and Woolworths began limiting the amount of toilet paper customers could purchase in each transaction after scenes of hysteria and even violence were seen in grocery stores around Australia.

There have also been reports of goods such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser advertised for sale for inflated prices, taking advantage of those who are unable to find the products in store.

Woolworths confirmed the revised policy will only apply to the listed items purchased from March 11 and will only apply to change of mind refunds and exchanges.

The faulty product return policy is still in place.

“Faulty products will continue to be refunded in full, exchanged or repaired as normal,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.

Empty supermarket shelves in Woolworths
In response to empty supermarket shelves, Woolworths have made changes to the returns policy for items in high demand. Source: Supplied

The chain has also made temporary changes to rainchecks on sale items.

“In addition, rainchecks won’t be offered on any advertised products on promotion,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.

Customer reaction online has been mostly positive with many praising the chain for its response to stock shortages.

“Good on Woolworths. Let the greedy people who bulk buy to make a profit and be stuck with excess amount of toilet paper,” one person wrote on the Woolworths Facebook page.

“This is the best decision as us people that didn’t panic are now struggling to find toilet paper,” another user added.

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