Black Friday sales are incredibly alluring. One minute you’re thinking you own everything you could possibly need, the next you’re certain you need a new set of sheets and a few bits for your kitchen.
Finding a few bargains over the major sales dates is an exciting experience for many of us, but the fact is that you may end up with something faulty, plain unsatisfactory or not right for you.
When it comes to shopping during the Black Friday sales, there can be confusing returns policies to navigate. What I want to look into, however, is what you’re technically allowed to do when you want to return a purchase you’ve made during the Black Friday sales.
Can I return Black Friday sales items?
What many people do not know is that despite what companies may try and tell you (online and otherwise), you are always entitled to ask for a “repair, replacement or refund” if the item or service you buy “fails to meet a consumer guarantee”. This guarantee is via the ACCC.
A spokesperson from the ACCC shared with Lifehacker Australia that:
“Under the Australian Consumer Law, when you buy products and services they come with automatic guarantees that they will work and do what you asked for.
“Businesses must provide these automatic guarantees regardless of any other warranties they give to you or sell you. Consumer guarantees may continue to apply after the time period for a warranty has expired.”
This, they continued, means the product must be “safe, lasting, with no faults,” it must “look acceptable” and it must “do all the things someone would normally expect them to do”.
Similarly, in the case of services, the ACCC spokesperson specified that these must be “provided with acceptable care and skill or technical knowledge;” “fit for the purpose,” or be delivered within a reasonable time when there is no agreed end date”.
In an interview with Smart Company back in 2017, ACCC deputy chair Michael Schaper explained that misunderstandings happen most when it’s related to online shopping.
“There’s a misconception by retailers and the public that online has different rules than bricks and mortar, people still think that,” he told the outlet.
“One of the things we see [online] is the comment that if an item is on sale, it is not refundable. That is just wrong. Consumers still have a right to an exchange, refund or repair for online clothing purchases that are faulty or not as described.”
How about intimate items?
Schaper went on to stress that another common misconception is the idea that underwear, swimwear and other intimates are not ever refundable. If there is an issue with any purchase, you can return it under Australian Consumer Law, he shared.
And yes, you can try Black Friday purchases before returning them, too.
“Then, you’ve got the idea that you have to return items in completely ‘original’ condition in order to get a refund,” Schaper went on to tell Smart Company.
“[If that were the case], you couldn’t possibly even try on the product without voiding your rights.”
So, am always entitled to a refund?
The short answer here is: no.
While there are protections in place for shoppers, this doesn’t mean you can just go and demand a refund in any old situation.
The ACCC website explains:
“You can ask a business for your preference of a free repair, replacement or refund, but you are not always entitled to one. For example, the consumer guarantees do not apply if you got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase or had no use for it.”
Then there are specifications like if faults are minor, you are expected to accept a free repair if the business offers it. You can read on about that here.
Additionally, a spokesperson for the ACCC advised that consumer guarantees do not apply if you “misused a product in any way that caused the problem” or if you “knew of or were made aware of the faults before you bought the product”.
Do I have to pay for returns?
Sometimes. If the company doesn’t offer free returns and you’re sending back an item for change of mind, you may be required to cover those costs.
However, this is not always the case. The ACCC writes:
“You are entitled to recover reasonable postage or transportation costs from the business if the product is confirmed to have a problem, so keep your receipts.”
Additionally, if there are issues with your purchase and the item is difficult to remove, the business is “responsible for paying the shipping costs or collecting the product within a reasonable time of being notified of the problem”. Think beds or televisions.
It’s also worth noting that you do not need the original packaging when returning an item in order to attain a refund – even on sales items – despite what the retailer may have you believe.
What if there’s a ‘no returns on sales’ sign?
Well, folks. According to the ACCC, signs that read “No refunds” or “No refunds or exchanges on sale items” are unlawful and misleading.
Whatever their signage says, your rights still apply. Just remember, this does not apply to cases where you’ve had a change of mind. So be sure to only purchase pieces that you’re sure you want/need when returns are not a given.
If you’d like to read more about security and safe shopping during the sales period, check out this write up we did on online scams. In the interim, shop carefully, but have fun out there.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.