Buyers beware: don’t get burnt in mid-year shopping frenzy

THE Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is reminding Queensland bargain hunters to pay attention to their consumer rights as retailers discount prices to tempt shoppers in mid-year clearance sales.

A number of complaints received by the OFT concern purchases made during sales which could have been avoided if consumers were aware of their rights.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said it is important consumers remember that their consumer rights do not stop when these sales start.

"All goods must be fit for purpose, safe, as described and have no defects - these are basic rights under consumer law that do not change during sales," Mr Bauer said.

"If goods don't meet these requirements then consumers are entitled to a remedy in either a refund, repair or a replacement.

"However, consumers must be aware that a retailer is not required by law to offer a refund or exchange purely because they have changed their mind and no longer wants the good. If you want to take an item back, be aware that a retailer can legally refuse a refund, repair or replacement if the product has been misused."

Do not be misled by the following signs, as they are illegal under Australian Consumer Law:

  •  'No refund'
  •  'No refund on sale items'
  •  'Exchange or credit note only for the return of sale items'.


Signs that say 'No refunds will be given if you have simply changed your mind' are acceptable.

"Providing a receipt is not the only way consumers are able to claim a remedy, with retailers able to confirm proof of purchase using alternate means, such as a credit card statement," Mr Bauer said.

"If an item or service is advertised at a bargain price during a sale, you should expect it to be available when you visit the store and if supply is limited, the retailer should provide this information in all sales advertisements.

"Retailers must be clear about mark-downs during sales. For example, it is misleading and a breach of consumer law for a retailer to state an item is a bargain because it is '50 per cent off', when it was never sold for the price claimed."

Consumers can find more information about their rights and obligations or lodge a complaint about a business or seller by visiting www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.



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