Ask LH: Can Shops Demand Your Address Before You Get A Refund?

Hey Lifehacker, I'm wondering if shops have the legal right to ask for your contact details when you are returning something for a refund. Any insight? Thanks, Refund Hunter

Picture: Satish Krishnamurthy

Dear RH,

In simple terms, no. Under Australian Consumer Law, businesses are not allowed to state that a consumer guarantee (your rights, which include the right to a refund) does not exist or can be excluded. You can't post a "no refunds" sign, and you can't set unreasonable conditions. If you have clear proof of purchase and the product has a major defect, then a business is not entitled to say you have to provide an address in order to receive it. If a business does that, complain to your state consumer affairs authority if you can't get a satisfactory result.

Having said that, there is one important caveat: you have to be entitled to a refund in the first place. You aren't entitled to a refund simply because you change your mind, and in the case of minor defects, a seller does have the option of repairing rather than replacing. Many businesses will offer change-of-mind refunds anyway, but under those circumstances, your "rights" aren't actually being exercised.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Am I right in thinking that some places might ask for verification purposes? For example, when you buy stuff from Harvey Norman they want your address for reasons. And I'd think that if you strolled in with a receipt and said "I want all my money back" and they didn't trust your receipt was legit, they'd ask for your address.

    I think that the address bit might be to combat fraud, so people can't just doctor a receipt (especially a photocopied one) and stroll out with STORE CREDIT! (cue Bart and Milhouse doing the "Store credit" dance, arms intertwined)

      Majority of major retailers have their receipts in their databases (Even Woolies and Coles) so they can just check the receipt number to double check the transaction.

        This ^^^^
        Almost every where has logs of the receipt numbers so even if you have a dodgey copy they can verify it on their system.

    Am I missing something? The way I read it the answer given doesn't address the question in the explanation...huh?

      This sentence is the answer to the question

      "If you have clear proof of purchase and the product has a major defect, then a business is not entitled to say you have to provide an address in order to receive it."

      The rest is saying that in cases where there isn't a clear law requiring that the business must refund your money, then there may be scenarios where the business can set whatever conditions they like on giving you a refund - like, for example, if you want a refund just because you changed your mind.

    It is more to do with keeping track of repeat returners, unfortunately there are people out there who buy things and constantly return them, this costs a business money. Also, if you can not provide a receipt and the store still does a refund/exchange for you they ask for ID so that if it is found those items were actually stolen they can pursue it.

    Identification is required in case of theft for the most part, pawn shop rules. Simplest form of theft is if you manage to steal and item and its reciept (ie stealing a shopping bag in a crowded mall, or maybe electronics from a persons home with the reciept nearby) I could walk into the store and say I made the wrong choice and could I get a full refund. Thats better than taking it to a pawn shop or ebay.

    If the store gives person money for items returned, and it turns out the item was stolen, police can confiscate the item from the store and the store loses out cause police cant guarantee return of lost money.

    I would be curious to know that, if you are returning under a scenario where the shop doesn't have to legally take it back, but allows you to return it anyway (such as changing your mind), then would they be able to? My suspicion is that they probably would be but I'm not sure.

    My work only takes your details if you have no proof of purchase, so while you have a legal right not to give it to us, we're under no legal obligation to give you a refund without a proof of purchase.

    Balls in your court.

    Not if it's faulty and you have a receipt.

    If it's not faulty or you don't have a receipt then they're entitled to ask. Your details are kept on file. If you come in every week asking for a refund on goods, questions will be asked.

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