Supplying products or services that are paid for

  • If businesses can’t supply a product or service that a consumer has paid for, on time or within a reasonable time, then the business must provide a solution.
  • If a consumer doesn't receive a product or service they've paid for on time or within a reasonable time, there can be various reasons – it doesn’t necessarily mean the business has broken the law.
  • It's against the law for businesses to take payment for products or services when they know they won’t be able to supply them.

What the ACCC does

  • We educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities.
  • We accept reports where people consider a business is doing something they shouldn’t do. We use those reports to inform our education, compliance and enforcement work.
  • If a business breaks the rules about accepting payment without intending to supply, we can investigate and may take some form of compliance or enforcement action. See our compliance and enforcement policy and priorities.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don't resolve individual disputes about a failure to supply or delayed supply.

Reasons for not receiving a product or service

If a consumer hasn’t received a product or service they paid for, there are several possible explanations.

Beyond the business’s control

There may be issues beyond the business’s control and which they didn’t know about when the consumer purchased the product – for example, unexpected delays in receiving products or components from suppliers, or postal delays.

If the problem is due to something beyond the business’s control, which they didn’t know about when the consumer purchased the product, the consumer should give the business a chance to provide a solution. This may include providing a refund or replacement.

If the business is aware of an issue outside of their control which they know will delay them supplying any products they offer for sale, the business needs to make sure they provide clear and accurate information to consumers about:

  • stock availability
  • the likely timing of production and delivery
  • what solutions they will provide if they can’t supply the product on time or within a reasonable time.

Businesses should also be proactive in updating customers about any delays that arise after they have purchased a product, and what steps the business is taking to help customers.

Accepting payment without intending to supply

The business may have promised a product or service that they knew they couldn’t supply or didn’t intend to supply.

Under the Australian Consumer Law, businesses must not accept payment for products or services if:

  • they don’t intend to supply the product or service
  • they intend to supply different products or services from those promised
  • they know, or should know, that they won’t be able to supply the products or services by the promised date, or within a reasonable time.

Victim of a scam

Sometimes, consumers don’t receive what they’ve paid for because the seller wasn’t a genuine business. This is a type of scam.

The ACCC Scamwatch website provides information on:

Dropshipping business model for the supply of products

Some businesses offer products for sale that they don’t have in stock. Instead, they act more as a ‘middle person’ and have agreements with other suppliers to provide the stock to fulfil the orders their customers make. This is called ‘dropshipping’.

Businesses that use the dropshipping business model should make sure they always give clear information to consumers about:

  • stock availability
  • where stock is coming from
  • the likely timing of delivery.

When deciding who to purchase from, consumers can ask a business whether it holds the stock itself or uses dropshipping.

The dropshipping business model can mean the business can offer lower prices because it has lower costs. However, it can cause problems for consumers because the business they are purchasing from doesn't have direct control over the stock.

Consumers should consider several factors when deciding which product to purchase and which business to purchase from.

Factors to consider include price, stock availability and delivery times. The lowest price may not always be the best option.

See also

Consumer rights and guarantees

False or misleading claims

Checking a business is genuine

Buying and selling products online

Repair, replace, refund, cancel

Unfair business practices