Consumer law on returns and refunds
As a basic premise, a customer has no automatic legal right to return goods to a retailer and seek a refund.
However, a customer is entitled to a refund on goods purchased under the following circumstances:
— If the customer was induced into buying the goods by misrepresentation;
— If the goods have a fault about which they could not have known at the time of purchase. (Customers can’t complain about defects that were pointed out to them at the time of purchase.)
— If the goods are NOT of merchantable quality – a basic level and quality and performance that would be reasonable to expect – bearing in mind the price and the way the goods were described.
— If the goods don’t do the job the customer was led to believe they would do.
— If the goods don’t match the description given when ordered.
— If the goods don’t match a sample shown when order.
A customer may also claim compensation for any loss or damage caused by faulty goods.
A customer may be offered a repair, an exchange or a credit note rather than a refund BUT it is the customer’s choice.
A customer is not entitled to a refund when:
— There is nothing wrong with the goods, but they have changed their mind.
— The goods were bought for someone else who simply doesn’t want them.
— The customer knows, or should have known, about any fault when they bought the goods (ie. if they were seconds.)
A customer is NOT entitled to a FULL refund:
— When the damage to goods is caused by the customer’s negligence. The supplier is entitled to deduct an amount from any refund.
— If the customer has used the goods and obtained commercial benefit from the use, the supplier may be entitled to deduct a fair amount from the refund to make up for that benefit.
Retailers need to be aware of the following:
— The time limit for a customer to seek a refund is dependent upon what is reasonable in the circumstances of the particular goods or services being purchased. When customers have problems with their purchase(s) they should bring these problems to the attention of the retailer promptly.
— The goods need to be returned in original packaging to obtain a refund.
— A receipt or proof of purchase should always be requested when a refund, exchange or credit note is requested.