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Got a dud product this festive season? Here are your rights

What can you do if your Christmas gift or Boxing Day sale bargain turns out to be a dud?

ugly christmas themed jumper
Last updated: 15 December 2023

The end of year period is a time when we're often buying more new things than usual. Whether it's Christmas presents or Boxing Day bargains, buying up big always comes with a risk of spending money on a dud product.

So what do you do if you find yourself with a product that's just not right?

It's worth refreshing your memory on your rights to a refund. Luckily, the Australian Consumer Law provides a range of consumer protections against dud products. 

Can I get a refund for a faulty product?

If you buy or receive a product that doesn't do what it's supposed to or isn't of acceptable quality, you can take it back to the retailer and ask for a remedy, such as a repair, replacement or refund.

Consumer guarantees apply whether or not you bought a product on sale, so don't be put off by 'no refunds' signs. (They're illegal anyway.)

But whether or not you can get a refund depends on whether the fault is major or minor.

person returning clothing at a refunds counter

Before you go into the store, make sure you know your rights under the Australian Consumer Law.

Tips for getting a refund for a faulty product

Know your rights

Do your research on the Australian Consumer Law before you go back to the store. See our comprehensive guide to your consumer rights for all the details.

Bring backup

Go into the store armed with the relevant information from the Australian Consumer Law. (Our article on what to do with a faulty product is a great resource.) If you have the information on hand, you can whip it out at the first sign of a retailer trying to shirk their obligations.

Know what you need and what you don't

If an item is faulty, you don't need to return it in its original packaging (despite what retailers might try to tell you). You don't throw your refund rights away with the box. 

You don't necessarily need a receipt, either – proof of purchase is enough. 

Don't let them fob you off

Don't let retailers fob you off to the manufacturer – they need to offer you a remedy if they sold you a faulty product.

Ask for the manager

Casual staff may not have a thorough grasp of the Australian Consumer Law. If you're having trouble getting a refund for a faulty product, ask to speak to someone more senior.

Know how to complain

If you're not getting anywhere, it's time to complain. 

Check out our articles on making complaints for advice on where to go.

Can I get a refund if I've changed my mind?

Retailers aren't obliged to give you a refund just because you've changed your mind. 

Many retailers do offer change-of-mind returns, but make sure you check their policies before you buy. Questions to ask include:

  • If I change my mind, can I get a full refund? Or do I only get store credit or an exchange?
  • How long after I've bought the product can I return it?
  • Does it need to be in the original packaging?
  • What proof of purchase do I need if I want to return an item?

Frequently asked questions

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.