Fair Trading / What rights if the gift goes back?

“You can always exchange an item but you can’t demand a refund if a present is the wrong size or colour or if you change your mind,” writes Frair Trading commissioner David Snowden

AS the days get hotter, wallets thinner and waists bigger it usually means one thing: Christmas is around the corner!

David Snowden.

With it comes an increased flurry of activity as we head to the shops or go online to snap up gifts.

This is often followed by the inevitable question for both the gift giver and the recipient: how can I return the not-so-loved present which is not my or their thing?

In what will be my last column of the year I thought I’d tackle this as well as some of the other common questions and consumer tips at this time of the year which often attract calls into Access Canberra. For a good mix I’ve also thrown in some safety tips which are critical for a safe festive season.

My top six consumer tips of Christmas:

  • Refunds are not an automatic right: you can always exchange an item but you can’t demand a refund if a present is the wrong size or colour or if you change your mind. Some retailers will give a refund but it is at their discretion. Know what policy the store has before you buy. See accc.gov.au for more information.
  • Petrol: at this time of year, shop around for the best deal. Rule of thumb – areas where there is strong competition is where you’ll usually fill your tank for less.
  • Button batteries: they are small, shiny and power almost everything these days. Unfortunately, they can also be mistaken by kids as a type of galactic lolly. Keep them out of reach and ensure they are secured in children’s toys or remotes. They can cause serious injury if ingested.
  • Gift cards: keep receipts when you purchase and check the cards carefully for expiry dates and terms and conditions. Again how expired cards may be honoured by a retailer is at their discretion, as are lost cards.
  • Sad but true: we often see an increase in scams around this time of the year. Make sure those you choose to extend your goodwill to are legitimate charities or organisations and if in doubt, don’t give your details out! You can check scam details here: scamwatch.gov.au
  • Toys: Purchase toys that are age appropriate and check them for quality and any loose parts that could cause a choking hazard. And always supervise children with toys on land and in the water!

On behalf of Access Canberra I’d like to wish readers and their families a safe and restful Christmas and New Year break.

David Snowden is the ACT Fair Trading commissioner.


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