How to get a refund every time 21



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How many times have you want to get a refund or tried and been turned away? We can often feel like our complaint falls on deaf ears, but even if you don’t like to ask for a refund, you always deserve your money’s worth; every penny counts these days so it’s definitely worthwhile to speak up.

Thankfully, Australia has tough consumer laws that protect everyday Aussies from being ripped-off and out of pocket.

These are the essential tips to get your money back, every time.

1. Shopping

  • REFUNDS: Did you know that displaying a ‘no refunds’ sign against the law in Australia? If your item is of unsatisfactory quality, is not as described, is not fit for purpose, or does not last for a reasonable amount of time, you are always entitled to a refund.
  • BUYING ONLINE: You have even more rights if you buy goods online – in fact you are able to send most faulty goods back within 2 weeks of receipt for a full refund (though you may be liable for return delivery so check with the store you bought it from)
  • FACT-CHECKING: Make sure you check a product’s compatibility with your current hardware, i.e. keyboards for a Mac computer or speakers for your TV, as this will not fall under the ‘as described’ refund rule. Note: if you asked if it would work with your existing model and were advised it did but it actually does not, you are entitled to a refund.
  • PRICING ERRORS: some people think if there’s incorrect pricing on a product, you can have it for that price, i.e. a vacuum is priced at $19 (bargain!) but is really $99 and all other stock is $99, the shop does not have to sell it to you for $19. Unless the store is being deliberately deceptive, they don’t have to legally honour the lower price.
  • CHANGE OF MIND: You’ve realised you’ve bought the wrong colour or size and want to exchange it. Most stores will honour this if you haven’t worn it/it’s been a short amount of time/the label and receipt are intact, though they do not legally have to.
  • WARRANTIES: These are tricky because it all depends on the product and the initial warranty period given. Most consumers don’t realise that they do not have to purchase an extended warranty – the majority of high-value products come with lifetime warranties and it can be against the law for a manufacturer to deny you a replacement if the product is genuinely faulty (under certain conditions). If the item is wilfully damaged or wasn’t taken care of, there’s a slim chance anything can be done about it, but if your laptop breaks just after the 12-month standard term from no user error, it’s worth checking with the manufacturer and the ACCC.

How to complain:

Make sure you’re armed with your receipt or have evidence of the purchase (bank statements can help too) and go directly to the store you bought from. Know your desired outcome: refund, exchange, compensation, and apology or a combination of these. Nine times out of ten the manager should help you on the spot but if you don’t get the assistant you need, you can refer it to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) who can attempt to resolve the issue on their end.

TIP: For more serious problems, legal advice can be sought if the ACCC cannot assist – you can get independent legal advice about what options are available at your local community legal centre or legal aid office (if you don’t have a solicitor).

2. Customer service i.e. wait times, misunderstandings, cold or unpleasant food, or the way you were treated

We’ve all been there – there’s hardly any staff on and the shop’s packed. You always order the same meal but this time it’s completely wrong. You were treated rudely and unenthusiastically in your favourite restaurant. You can’t wait to try a new menu item, take a bite and it’s cold or taste’s horrible. All of these scenarios are seriously unpleasant and can really make or break your experience with even your favourite haunt. We all make mistakes but when it’s a $35 meal you’re paying for, it shouldn’t be brushed off!

How to complain:

Simply ask to speak to the manager on duty and explain the situation calmly*. Remember to tell them exactly what you’re expecting otherwise you could end up disappointed again – a refund, a new meal or a combination of both. Once, I complained about service using a contact form and the hotel manager issued me a written apology and a voucher worth twice what I paid. If you don’t want to feel the same way again or have someone else get the same experience, some constructive feedback is the only way a restaurant can improve.

TIP: *Try not to get angry, especially if it was a misunderstanding or an accident, as this lets the business have a chance to rectify the issue for you quickly – name-calling and carrying on will only delay this process!
Hot tips:

1. Always have a receipt, especially for expensive products. Create a folder and make it a habit to pop any dockets in there
2. Write a letter if it’s serious
3. Don’t be afraid to seek assistant or counsel
4. Get what you paid for


Have you ever had bad service that was rectified by a company? Share your stories below.

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  1. I can honestly say there has only been 1 instance where I purchased something and found that someone else had purchased the same item for me so I decided to take back the item I had purchased as I had my receipt, when I asked for a refund the sales person pointed to the sign stating they didn’t give refunds and when I told the person it was against the law here in Australia the sales person once again said no so I got my phone out in front of her to look up Consumer Affairs and she got angry however she gave me a refund and I asked her to remove the sign or would still contact Consumer Affairs and they would tell her, your choice. The sign was taken down and has not be put back up.

    4 REPLY
    • Mike here-returning an unwanted gift is slightly different than trying to get a warranty claim moving.

    • Whilst it is against the law to say no refund, stores are not obliged to refund unwanted items. Most will, but it is not the consumers’ right to expect one. That is my understanding.

    • “You can ask a business for your preference of a free repair, replacement or refund, but you are not always entitled to one. For example, the consumer guarantees do not apply if you got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase or had no use for it.” This is from the ACCC website.

  2. I have never had a problem returning faulty goods and getting a refund. I live in a small country town so perhaps it is different in the big city. Have had a problem with purchasing extended warranty. My experience is if you do not live in a big city then forget it. By the time you pay for transporting the faulty item you could buy another new one. No longer buy extended warranties.

    4 REPLY
    • No Debbie I have never had a problem before that however it was her opinion that because it was her business she had the right to refuse, and when told to call Consumer Affairs herself she took the sign down.

    • I never purchase extended warranties they can be a waste of money. If an item is faulty it’s usually apparent within the original warranty time.

    • We bought extended warranty on a washing machine and something went wrong they fixed it for us with some spray and after the warranty finished same thing happen, we found out that the spray only covered some of the problem, they asked us to pay $800 to fix it, the extended warranty is a scam,never again.

  3. I have never had a problem returning goods,but as far as complaining about poor service or food it can be a mixed bunch. I always stay super calm and only state what the problem is with no loaded language.Most of the time staff are wonderful but sometimes,they can shock you with their disrespect. (I don’t make a habit of this,I’m talking of over the years:-)

  4. I had this problem with a top I bought a few months ago, they wouldn’t refund me my money and said they didn’t have to. It was sold ad a large but it was too small, it fit my granddaughter who is an 8. They wanted me to exchange but I took the item and gave it to a friend for her daughter,

    2 REPLY
    • I would recommend in future that yo.u challenge them even if you have to mention Consumer Affairs, they are in the wrong.

  5. I’ve never really had problems with returning something that was deficient, apart from a TV that refused to turn on.

    I enquired about my rights as a consumer from the website of the consumer affairs bureau.
    Then I asked the store who had sold me the goods to replace it.

    They became very defensive, until I pointed out that anything that arrived “dead on arrival” , was not fit for purpose.

    Took a week, but after that, I had a knock on the door. The manager of the store , plus a helper were there to replace and instal the obviously defective TV.

    That one worked perfectly, and I’ve still got it.

  6. That is very interesting. We have a Target store in Morley Galleria, Perth that says you cannot return purchased items, so obviously you won’t get a refund.

  7. I am in Tassie and never a problem with Target here with exchange or refund with or without docket I send articles to Gold Coast without docket still had tag and daughter in law had no trouble

  8. I have one of the Samsung washing machines that have a big fault (they can catch fire unexpectedly ) have had a service guy come and put glad wrap around some wiring but not happy and awaiting a reply on my email requesting a new machine or money back, trust I will not have to wait to long for an answer.

  9. Never had a problem returning anything to Target or any of the major stores,if small stores always ask what their refund policy is if they don’t have one buy else where,on a very rare occasion when I have had a problem I know my rights & stand firm,when they know they can’t put one over you all turns out well…

  10. Hi , I have two things, 1. A called washing machine (Samsung ) this is the third recall, a mechanic came out first recall and covered wires with a plastic bag and said all ok. Of course you believe it, so when second recall came I ignored but then the third one I thought I need a replacement, BUT no they won’t as I’ve had the repair done, what do I do? Number 2. My car is 5 years old and the surrounds on the front seats have snapped and the reason is that the sitting part of the seats have also collapsed and put pressure on the surrounds, BUT again Holden refuse to replace free of charge WHY ?

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