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. We may take some form of compliance or enforcement action

What the ACCC can't do

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

On this page

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 or service. For instance, in the case of products, there may be unexpected delays in receiving products or components from suppliers, or postal delays. In the case of services, there may be something like weather preventing the business from providing the service.

If the problem is due to something beyond the business’s control, which they didn’t know about when the consumer purchased the product or service, the consumer should give the business a chance to provide a solution. In the case of products, this may include the business providing a refund or replacement. In the case of services, this may include a refund for the portion of time the consumer can't access the service, or a replacement service.

However, businesses do not have to give replacement services or refunds under the consumer guarantees if the actions of a third party prevented them from supplying their services. For instance, when businesses were prevented from supplying their services due to government restrictions in response to COVID-19. In this situation, consumers’ right to a refund or replacement will generally depend on the terms and conditions of the agreement for supply of the service.

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

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

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

Subscriptions and memberships

For services purchased through a subscription or membership, the business should not continue to charge the consumer, or deduct payments, for the period that the consumer can’t access the service.

Businesses also shouldn’t mislead consumers about how the terms and conditions deal with the business temporarily not being able provide its service.


Consumers may not be able to access their gym as normal because a neighbouring property's water pipe burst and the gym has flooded.

Gyms often have a term in their membership agreements that allow consumers to pause their membership for a fee. If the gym tries to charge this fee in situations where the gym is temporarily unable to provide its service, this may be misleading conduct.

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’. They 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.

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

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

Things to consider when making a purchase

There are several things that consumers should consider when deciding which product to buy and which business to buy from.

This includes:

  • price
  • stock availability, including whether the business holds the stock itself and has control over the stock
  • expected delivery time, which is often determined by where the stock is coming from. For example, goods shipped from overseas may take longer to arrive.

The lowest price may not always be the best option for every consumer.

Next steps for business

If you need more help about the rules for supplying products that have been paid for

Contact us for information about your rights and obligations under the law or seek legal advice.

Contact the ACCC

If you believe you’ve been misled by another business supplying a product you've paid for

Your first step is to contact the other business to explain the problem.

If the business doesn’t resolve the problem, there are more steps you can take.

Get help contacting another business or taking a problem further

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