Minister for Fair Trading Stuart Ayres today warned all consumers hunting end of year bargains to shop smart.
“Before you join the post-Christmas crush or take the plunge online there are key rules you and the retailer should follow,” Mr Ayres said.
“Last year we saw a 13.7 per cent increase in complaints involving refunds from 4,642 in 2011 to 5,281 in 2012.
“Sales can be exciting and tempting but please don’t get caught out with a lasting hangover.
“Simple rules to follow include reading the store’s return and refund policy before you buy, as many stores do not offer unconditional refunds on sale items.
“If it’s the wrong size, the wrong colour or you’ve simply changed your mind, don’t assume you can return your purchase to the store and get an automatic refund.
“The same applies to unwanted Christmas gifts. A retailer is not required by law to offer a refund or exchange on a gift purely because it is unwanted.
“A refund, repair or replacement must always be offered if goods are faulty or defective, different to the sample shown or described in advertising, or not fit for the purpose intended.
“It is illegal for retailers to display signs with a blanket statement such as ‘no refunds’, ‘no refunds after (a specified number of days)’ or ‘exchange, repair or store credit only’.
“Many retailers adopt a returns policy in addition to their legal responsibilities and these policies may have some rules. However, these blanket signs only serve to confuse consumers and deny them their legal right to refunds where circumstances allow.
“A trader cannot refuse a refund on faulty or sub-standard goods purely because they have not been returned in their original packaging or wrapping.
“If an item is displayed for sale with more than one price tag or if the item scans at a different price to that displayed on the shelf, the retailer must sell the item at the lower price or withdraw it from sale.
“For on-the-spot advice consumers can download Fair Trading’s free ShopSmart app for iPhones and Androids at: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call 13 32 20.
“When shopping online, know who you are dealing with, be wary of offers that appear too good to be true and shop around to compare price, function and capability.
“Make sure you know what you are getting for your money and obtain the seller’s contact name, address and phone number in case there are any problems,” Mr Ayres said.
For more information about Fair Trading go to: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au