Are you legally entitled to a refund in Western Australia?

January 3, 2024    Personal Injury Lawyers Perth
Are you legally entitled to a refund in Western Australia?

When a business sells a product to customers that fails to meet its claims or proves harmful, then the consumer is entitled to consumer guarantees that protect their rights and interests. Under these guarantees, the consumer is entitled to either replacement, repair, or refund as solutions, also known as remedies to the problem. Additionally, depending on the severity of the breach of consumer rights, the customer may be entitled to further compensation.

This article explains the consumer protection laws applicable to goods and products and how customers can engage with them by taking the help of consumer protection lawyers in Perth

What are Consumer Guarantees?

According to the Australian Consumer Law, when an operating business opts to provide goods and services to a clientele, the products or services must meet the basic rights of the consumer. These encoded rights are called consumer guarantees or consumer protection laws. The consumer automatically gains these rights when they buy the product or service. Additionally, it is deemed unlawful when a business does not make good on the promises or claims of the products that represent them.

What’s the difference between Consumer Guarantees and a warranty?

Often, consumer guarantees and warranties are conflated with each other; however, it is important to note that they are fundamentally different.

A consumer guarantee is encoded within consumer protection law and is unchanging regardless of the business or the product. In contrast, a warranty can be promised with some, if not all, purchases or products, and businesses can choose if they are able to offer them or not.

Consumer guarantees do not require to be purchased separately. They are automatically promised when the consumer purchases the service or product a business sells. On the other hand, a warranty is an extra set of promises made along with the purchase of a product or often separately purchasable, extendable, or negotiable.

What comprises the violation of consumer rights?

The basic rights of a consumer can be considered violated in the following conditions:

  1. When the product or service does not match their claims, it can be considered misleading: This could be an issue with the nature of the product or the product concept as a whole.
  2. In case of damage or problems with the product that require action from the business: This can be a problem with a specific product and not the nature of the product as a whole.

In the situations mentioned above, depending on the severity of the issue, the customer can be entitled to repairs, refunds, replacements, or some form of compensation. These are known as remedies that include consumer laws on refunds. Businesses cannot take away these rights from the customer based on the independent policies of the stores where they operate or the retail services they avail to distribute their products.

When is a consumer entitled to a refund?

While there are various reasons to refund on a case-by-case basis, a consumer is entitled to refund or remedy in two broad cases:

  1. In case of a major problem with the product or service
  2. In case of a minor problem with the product or service.

The level of remedy varies for both of these cases.

 In case of a major problem with a product or service:

A problem can be regarded as major in the following situations:

  1. The product or service is unsafe or creates an unsafe environment.
  2. It differs vastly from its description or its claims.
  3. It has some or several problems that would prevent customers from purchasing them if they were privy to the information beforehand.
  4. The product cannot be used for its designated purpose and cannot be fixed within a reasonable time frame.

In case of one or more of the above conditions, the customers can avail of a refund. The refund must be the full amount paid by the customer during the purchase. The business or company cannot withhold a refund even if the retailer or store where the products are sold does not conduct refunds. The business or company cannot deduct any amount from the refund based on the consideration of the use the customer had of the product or service.

In the case of contractual services, the business can either nullify the contract or keep the contract at a reduced price. In the former case, the customer still needs to pay for the services they’ve used from the business. The refund, if any, can be a reduced amount contingent on the labor or services already utilized.

The money should be paid back in the same form in which the customer paid for the product unless the customer or the business can negotiate an alternative.

 In case of a minor problem with a product or service:

In case of minor problems, a refund is not necessarily promised to the customer as a remedy. However, businesses can provide it if the situation demands it. Repairs are the main solution for minor issues, and while replacements are also viable remedies, they are, once again, not compulsory. When is a refund done in this case?

A refund for minor problems is necessary in case the business cannot provide a timely solution or repair within a reasonable time frame. In that case, a customer is entitled to a refund or monetary compensation for the repair costs to take the repair elsewhere or a reduced price in case of contractual services.

Is a customer always right? When are customers not entitled to refunds?

Despite the prevalence of consumer protection laws, it is important to remember that a customer is not always in the right regarding their claim for refunds for products and purchases. The following situations outline when a customer is not entitled to a refund:

  1. In case of a change of mind where the customer received the services or results they were promised but changed their mind, either due to finding cheaper alternatives or lack of use. That said, if a business has pre-existing policies covering a “change of mind,” they are bound to honor it.
  2. If the issue with the product was caused as a result of consumer misuse.
  3. If they were made aware of problems prior to purchase but still gave their informed consent to purchase the product or service. That being said, the customer is entitled to remedies, including refunds for problems they were uninformed about.
  4. If the problem arose due to the customer going against the advice of the business regarding the product or service.
  5. If the involvement of an unrelated third party caused the problem.
  6. If the consumer does not address the issue within a stipulated period that the business has outlined to prove the validity of the claim.

Parting words

As a part of consumerist societies, buyers, customers, and clients must know their rights and responsibilities when they enter into transitions, contracts for purchases with businesses, or embark on business themselves. This is not only in the interest of protecting one’s rights but also in maintaining ethical codes of conduct for businesses.

Additionally, being well-versed in consumer rights makes for responsible and proactive patrons who are participatory, aware, and conscious of their purchasing powers and rights. Contact our team of the best consumer protection lawyers from personal injury lawyers Perth for consultations, assistance, or briefings on consumer laws.

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