ACCC puts clothing retailers on notice

16 November 2017

The ACCC has found some retailers may be misleading consumers about their rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) after reviewing the online policies of several large Australian clothing retailers.

“This year the ACCC has received over 750 complaints regarding consumer guarantees for clothing purchases. We are reviewing the policies of retailers at busy times such as Click Frenzy, in the lead up to Christmas and during the Boxing Day sales period,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“If customers are looking to return faulty goods after this week’s Click Frenzy online shopping event, the ACL gives them the right to choose between a refund or replacement if a product they have purchased has a major fault, even for sale and clearance items. If a product has a minor fault, retailers can choose to provide a free repair instead of a refund or replacement.”

The ACCC is engaging directly with 12 retailers to ask them to amend their online returns policies to avoid confusing or misleading consumers

“Businesses must ensure the rights of consumers are honoured when they try to return a faulty product. Retailers must not misrepresent the consumer law and the rights of their customers in the wording and advertising of their returns’ policies. We will take further action if a retailer is not fulfilling its legal obligations under consumer law,” Dr Schaper said.

“Misleading representations regarding online refunds and returns are one of the most complained about issues reported to the ACCC. Already this year, the ACCC has received over 24,000 contacts about consumers guarantees so it is important for us warn the retail sector and educate consumers as we enter the busiest shopping period of the year.”

Know your rights as a consumer

As a consumer, you have rights if you buy or receive a faulty products:

Retailers cannot refuse to give you a refund, repair or replacement because you bought the item on sale or at a clearance store unless they brought the fault to your attention before you bought the item.

  • Signs stating ‘No Refunds’ or ‘No refunds or exchanges on sale items’ are unlawful and do not alter your rights under the ACL or prevent them from applying.
  • Retailers cannot restrict the period in which you can get a remedy for faulty products. You have a right to a remedy for a reasonable amount of time after buying the item. This period can last longer than any express warranty period given to you when you purchased the item.
  • Retailers do not have to give you refunds or exchanges if you got what you asked for but simply changed your mind.

More information about consumers’ guarantee rights is available from the ACCC website.

Recent outcome:

In July 2017, Lululemon Athletica Australia Pty Ltd (Lululemon) paid penalties totalling $32,400, following three infringement notices from the ACCC for alleged false or misleading representations about consumer guarantee rights.

Release number: 
208/17
ACCC Infocentre: 

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