It's beginning to look a lot like... retail frenzy. Toys in every store. It's great fun to sell stuff in the Christmas rush. It's less fun when it comes back for return. Here's our survival guide on your return and refund obligations under the Australian Consumer Law.
1. Change of mind / unwanted gift / wrong size
a. You don't have to provide a refund for change of mind, unwanted gift or a wrong size.
b. You can choose to let customers to swap for another item/size, obtain store credit, or even provide a refund if you want, but it's not a legal requirement. You can specify a time frame for these kinds of returns if you're accepting them.
2. Faulty products basic obligations under the ACL
a. You do have to let customers return faulty products, even if they're not in their original packaging. It's against the law to refuse to provide refunds, even on sale items.
b. Whether you have to provide a refund depends on the fault.
i. If the customer requests a refund, you have to provide it in any of the
following cases, called major failures.
A. The customer wouldn't have bought the item had they known about the fault. (That's going to catch most faults realistically.)
B. The product is substantially different from a description or a sample.
C. The product doesn't do what it's meant to do and can't easily be fixed.
D. The product is unsafe.
ii. You can choose to repair the product, replace it or provide a refund if the fault is not a major failure.
c. You have to accept the return so long as the product is returned within a reasonable period in which you'd expect the fault to become apparent. This will depend on the type of product and its normal use. There's no set period for returns.
3. Manufacturer warranties
a. Manufacturer warranties apply as well as the basic refund obligations above, not instead of them. If you're offering a manufacturer warranty it must include some specific wording in the ACL regulations explaining this.
b. The ACL also sets out a bunch of other specific requirements for manufacturer warranties relating to their form and the return process.
4. Proof of purchase
a. You're allowed to ask for proof of purchase, but the proof doesn't strictly have to be your invoice. For example, a credit card receipt may be sufficient if it has enough information to identify the product purchased.