Christmas carols echo around every store, Christmas trees are being decorated, the elves are busy making toys in the North Pole and the excitement is building for the big day when Santa comes to visit. But sometimes the gift so carefully (or not so carefully) chosen for us, is not exactly what we had on our Christmas list. It’s the thought that counts…right?
People are unhappy with Christmas gifts for many reasons, maybe it’s just not right for you, or it doesn’t exactly look like the photo on the internet, or maybe it’s of poor quality or broken before you even start using it. For whatever reason, come Boxing Day, many people are lining up at stores to return unwanted gifts, but people are often told by retailers that they are not able to return the item.
When does a retailer have to accept a return?
All retailers operating in Australia are bound by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Pursuant to the ACL, you are able to return a product that is faulty or if it does not do what it is supposed to do eg. an electronic device that doesn’t turn on. You are also able to return an item that does not match the advertised description. We have all seen those funny photos on the internet of clothing items purchased online that don’t exactly looking like the product the model is wearing in the advertisement – think full length fuchsia formal gown in the photo compared to the ill-fitting bright orange mini dress that arrives in the mail! Depending on the issue with the product, you may be offered a repair, a replacement, or a refund when you return the item to the store it was purchased from.
Returning online items can be a little trickier because the retailer may be an overseas company, but if they are selling items in Australia, they are required to follow the ACL. Check the store’s website to review the returns policy for online purchases or email the retailer to find out what is required. Be aware that there may be practical difficulties for enforcement of the ACL however if the online retailer fails to provide a suitable remedy.
Unfortunately, for items that your out-of-touch family member gave to you that you just don’t like (or re-gifted because they didn’t like it either!), the store is not required to accept a return. Despite that, it could be worth trying to return the product as many retailers use their discretion and will accept returns if there is a receipt and goods are in the original condition as a gesture of goodwill to their customers.
What other options are there? Well, you could always list the orange mini dress on marketplace or ebay and see if it might be someone else’s dream Christmas gift – just make sure your photo and description match the product you are selling because you will also be required to follow the consumer laws!
I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas with family and friends and all the trimmings. Merry Christmas, stay safe and well, and I will see you all in the new year. Bring on 2021!!! KC Hilton, WNB Legal Pty Ltd.