Australian clothing retailers are potentially misleading consumers, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which has received hundreds of complaints about consumer guarantees.
“This year the ACCC has received over 750 complaints regarding consumer guarantees [specifically] for clothing purchases,” said ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper.
Consumer rights are enshrined in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), however there appears to be confusion or even deception around sale items.
Dr Schaper said that the ACCC is “reviewing the policies of retailers at busy times such as Click Frenzy, in the lead up to Christmas and during the Boxing Day sales period” to ensure they remain compliant.
“If customers are looking to return faulty goods after this week’s Click Frenzy online shopping event, the ACL gives them the right to choose between a refund or replacement if a product they have purchased has a major fault, even for sale and clearance items,” he said.
“If a product has a minor fault, retailers can choose to provide a free repair instead of a refund or replacement.”
So far 12 retailers have already been approached to amend their online return policies.
The law states that retailers cannot refuse to refund, repair or replace an item just because it has been bought ‘on sale’.
According to the ACCC:
- Signs stating ‘No refunds’ or ‘No refunds or exchanges on sale items’ are unlawful and do not alter a customer’s legal rights from applying.
- Retailers cannot restrict the period for remedy of faulty products, which can last longer than any express warranty period provided at the time of purchase.
- Retailers are not forced to provide refunds or exchanges where a customer has simply changed their mind.
“Retailers must not misrepresent the consumer law and the rights of their customers in the wording and advertising of their returns’ policies. We will take further action if a retailer is not fulfilling its legal obligations under consumer law,” Dr Schaper said.
“Misleading representations regarding online refunds and returns are one of the most complained about issues reported to the ACCC. Already this year, the ACCC has received over 24,000 contacts about consumers guarantees, so it is important for us [to] warn the retail sector and educate consumers as we enter the busiest shopping period of the year.”