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Re-gift or Refund?

This Christmas you will undoubtedly be gifted something that you don’t want. So what can you do? Can you return to the shop at least one of the fourteen pairs of socks that you have received, or are the socks doomed to being re-gifted next year?

If you simply change your mind about a purchase or have seen it cheaper elsewhere, a business is not compelled to provide you with a replacement or refund (including an in-store credit). That said, many stores have their own returns policies that are more generous and allow for goods to be returned within a certain amount of time, provided that they haven’t been used and that you have proof of purchase. If you wish to return something, it is worthwhile contacting the store to enquire as to its return policy. In short, if you have just changed your mind about the socks, you will not be automatically entitled to get a refund.

If there is a problem with your Christmas socks, however, that is a different story, and the question then becomes: when can you compel a store to provide you with a refund, repair, or replacement? The answer is, it depends whether your problem falls within one of the consumer guarantees outlined in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The consumer guarantees in the ACL provide that a product must:

  • Be of merchantable quality (or in other words, the socks must meet the standard of quality that you would reasonably expect, taking into account their price and description);

  • Be fit for purpose (including any purpose specified by the shop or the customer);

  • Match the description made by the salesperson or in the advertising (this includes the description of the socks’ appearance as well as additional promises about performance and quality, including “lifetime guarantees”).

If your socks do not meet one or more of the guarantees outlined above, you are protected and entitled to a refund, repair, or replacement (depending on whether the problem is major or minor).

That said, the guarantees won’t apply in circumstances such as where you misused the product and caused the problem, or knew of the problem before you bought the product.

Words: Sally Davies - Senior Associate, Jenkins Legal Services

This article is not legal advice, and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.

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