Supermarket giant Woolworths has come under fire after making a controversial change to one of its long-standing policies.
The retailer last week implemented a new rule banning customers from returning products for a refund if they took items home and later decided they didn’t want them.
Customers could previously receive a full refund on products if they returned them due to a change of mind - that was up until September 1.
The supermarket announced that until further notice it would “not provide a refund where you have simply changed your mind about products purchased from Woolworths”.
“If you have purchased additional items, we encourage you to share those in need, in particular the elderly and most vulnerable,” an update to its policy read.
Woolworths in March stopped accepting “change of mind” returns on a list of products like toilet paper and paper towels due to coronavirus panic buying.
Following the latest change, customers took to social media with mixed opinions - some saying it had made their lives harder, while others expressed their full support.
A customer on Thursday said she had accidentally bought a 30-pack of Coke cans instead of a 24-pack that was on special at the time.
She claimed in a post to the Woolworths Facebook page that she “went straight back in to be told ‘sorry’ they won’t do anything about it due to the ‘new policy’”.
“So I have ended up paying extra $21.10 for six cans. I wasn’t impressed at all, when times are as tough as they are to be told about a change in policy,” she wrote.
In a later update to her post, she explained she had since spoken to the store manager and had been given a $20 voucher.
Another customer claimed in a comment they had mistakenly purchased a product they thought was part of a special too, and were denied a refund when they took it back the following day.
Many others shared similar experiences, one saying she hadn’t even left the store yet when she realised she had accidentally bought the wrong nappies.
Some shoppers weren’t as critical of the change, expressing their support and encouraging people with a problem to “get over it”.
“Bigger problems in the world! Good on you Woolies, stick to your guns! About time you had this in place,” one person wrote in a comment.
What can be refunded and exchanged
A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia customers should be allowed to exchange products they accidentally bought or changed their mind about.
“We have recently changed our refund policy and will no longer offer them for a change of mind,” they said in a statement.
“We still offer our customers the option to exchange products when they’ve had a change of mind or made a mistake, and we know this flexibility is important to them.
“This change brings us in line with broader supermarket industry practice on change of mind refunds. Of course, we’ll always refund or replace any products that are faulty.”
Coles suspended its change-of-mind refund policy on March 13 to discourage “over-purchasing” spurred by panic buying amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The supermarket encouraged customers with items they no longer wanted to donate them to community organisations or struggling neighbours.
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