News National The consumer rights you should know you have
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The consumer rights you should know you have

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Consumers often bemoan getting a raw deal but many people don’t realise the rights at their disposal when it comes to everyday purchases and negotiations.

From buying a fridge at a shopping centre to sending a parcel to a loved one, understanding the available protections can come in handy if things turn pear-shaped.

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Here’s some common rights consumers need to be aware of.

Shopping refunds

Shoppers beware.
Shoppers beware.

If there’s a problem with an item you bought, the store may have to provide a replacement, refund, or repair depending on the issue.

You can return a faulty item even if you have worn or used it, removed the tags or labels, or taken it out from its original packaging.

You also have the right to return an item if it doesn’t do what the salesperson told you it would; like a watch that didn’t work underwater when you went diving.

A store isn’t required to offer a refund to consumers who have simply changed their minds, but many elect to do so or offer a store credit at their discretion.

Source: Australian Consumer Law

Cooling off period

When buying a car from a licensed dealer you have three business days from signing the contract to change your mind.

A dealer is required to hand you a cooling-off rights waiver before you sign on the dotted line.

If you change your mind and terminate the sale you must do so in writing within the cooling-off period and the trader is entitled to keep $400 or two per cent of the purchase price, whichever is greater.

Source: Consumer Affairs Victoria

Credit card chargebacks

Consumers are entitled to request a chargeback, or reverse, of a purchase made on a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express Card if they believe fraud has occurred.

For example, if you purchase goods online and don’t receive them or the goods are damaged or different to the original description, you can report the merchant to your card provider and request a chargeback.

Chargeback rights are generally limited to 120 days from when the transaction took place and once this window expires you lose the right to a reversal.

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Consumers who feel they have been mislead can lodge a complaint.

Source: Kirsty Lamont, director of mozo.com.au

Price displays

Consumers should be able to easily see the total price of anything advertised.

If multiple or different prices are displayed on a product or in advertising, the business has to fix the display or sell you the item for the lowest price.

Businesses can mislead consumers about prices if they promote a ‘sale’ or ‘special’ price which is not in fact a temporary sale price and has simply been used to create an unwarranted sense of urgency.

Other ways include a strike through the price that is not the price those items were sold for previously.

Consumers who feel they have been mislead can lodge a complaint here.

Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

Telemarketers

Telemarketers are regulated under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 and must abide by clear guidelines.

Telemarketers must abide by clear guidelines.
Telemarketers must abide by clear guidelines.

Telemarketers are not allowed to call you on Sundays or public holidays; before 9am or after 8pm on weekdays; and before 9am or after 5pm on Saturdays.

The Australian Government’s national Do Not Call Register allows people to list their home, mobile number or fax machine to reduce telemarketing calls.

Source: ACCC

Right to complain

All banks are required to have an internal complaint handling procedure under the Code of Banking Practice and National Credit Code.

When making an official complaint your bank is required to investigate it and some also provide an independent assessment.

If your bank can’t resolve your complaint then you have the right to access free external resolution dispute schemes such as the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT).

Source: Kirsty Lamont, director of mozo.com.au

Receipts

If you’re returning an item when shopping and you don’t have the cash register receipt then you are entitled to show a credit-card statement, a lay-by agreement, or a confirmation or receipt number in the case of a phone or online purchase.

Source: Australian Consumer Law

Borrowing at the bank

While consumers borrowing money from banks are responsible for paying back any loans taken out under a contract, there are provisions in place for those experiencing financial hardship.

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Financial institutions must abide by responsible lending practices, including not offering people more money than they can afford.

Lenders have financial hardship provisions if you’re struggling to make repayments and may be able to postpone repayments, extend the loan term, or offer short-term reductions in interest rates.

Source: Michelle Hutchison, money expert at finder.com.au

Car recalls

Holden has already issued 11 safety recall notices this year on a variety of its cars.

Faults with cars are normally identified in assembly plants and through dealer testing.

Holden’s largest recall this year was for the VF Commodore and WN Caprice seatbelt pretensioners, with more than 40,000 vehicles affected.

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Holden has had almost a dozen recalls this year. Photo: Getty

Once a fault has been confirmed it is reported to the ACCC and customers are sent a recall letter and dealers advised.

If a customer does not respond to the letter they will receive a second, third, and final notice.

Consumers can visit their nearest dealer and get the fault fixed at no cost.

Source: Holden

Door-to-door salespeople

Door-to-door salespeople are not allowed to visit you on Sundays or public holidays; before 9am or after 6pm on weekdays; or before 9am or after 5pm on Saturdays.

The salesperson is required to leave immediately if you ask them and not return for 30 days.

Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Cancelled concerts

The Rolling Stones cancelled their Australian tour in March and left thousands of ticket holders in a bind.

New tour dates were subsequently announced but consumers were entitled to a refund if the dates did not suit them.

The Rolling Stones perform
The Rolling Stones were a high-profile concert cancellation.

People who lost money on travel and accommodation had the option of getting in touch with Ticketek and Frontier Touring to claim back costs associated with attending the concert.

While the Ticketing Code of Practice states consumers are not entitled to auxillary costs if concerts are cancelled, the Australian Consumer Law provides for consumers to receive compensation for consequential loss where services aren’t delivered.

If Ticketek and Frontier Touring did not provide a satisfactory outcome consumers could have lodged a complaint with the department of fair trading or consumer affairs bodies in their state.

Source: Consumers’ Federation of Australia

Your mail or parcel never arrived

Australia Post parcels
You may be able to claim compensation on mail.

You may be able to claim compensation provided you have proof of postage.

If you’re the sender, proof includes the ‘’sender-to-keep’’ sticker on the envelope for Express Post or the receipt for registered post.

Receivers who find damaged items in the post should take them to Australia Post.

Compensation for missing or damaged items depends on the value of the item and whether the sender bought insurance.

For a lost letter or parcel the claim limit is $100.

Extra Cover is available for more expensive items.

Source: Choice

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