Everything you need to know about refunds in Australia

Whether you're shopping in-store or shopping online, here's all the information you need to know.

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The laws around refunds in Australia are quite different to refund laws in other countries. Both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Department of Fair Trading have detailed descriptions of the Australian laws around refunds. To help, we've summarised them all for you.

Do you have a question about refunds that we haven't answered? Get in touch with us in the comments below.

Am I entitled to a refund?

Not really. Only in certain circumstances.

Australian consumer law says that a store or seller MUST provide a repair, replacement or refund if an item is faulty or significantly not as described.

For example, if you bought a dress online and it arrived with a stain on it, the item could reasonably be considered faulty. The retailer would be required to provide either a refund or send you a new dress (without charging postage) as a remedy.

Similarly, if you've purchased a food processor and it has worked fine for a week but then suddenly broke you may also be entitled to a remedy. If you've used the product as described, there is a reasonable expectation that the product will last at least until the end of the warranty period. Again the retailer or supplier would be required to provide a remedy.

Another example: if you bought a blue vase online and when it arrived it turned out to be red, then you could also be entitled to a remedy. If the actual product is significantly different from both the images and product description, you're entitled to a remedy.

Many retailers will ask whether you prefer a refund or a new product, but this is a courtesy and the retailer has the final say.

Am I entitled to a refund if I've changed my mind?

No, you're not.

Let's say you walk into a store and buy something and then walk back in one minute later with the receipt and try to return it, even then you're not entitled to a refund. Australian retailers are not required by law to refund anything simply because a customer has changed their mind.

That said, many retailers including David Jones, Myer and THE ICONIC will happily offer refunds for change of mind. Lots of stores do! So if you often find that you change your mind about purchases, you might want to stick to shopping with stores that definitely do offer refunds for change of mind.

It's worth checking the returns policy at the store you're shopping with before you make a purchase. Otherwise you might not be able to get your money back.

The "Am I entitled to a refund?" checklist

Not sure if you're entitled to a refund? Run through this checklist and you'll be able to work out if you can get a refund under Australian law.

You're entitled to a refund, replacement or repair if:

  • The item is faulty or damaged
  • You were sent the wrong item
  • You were sent the wrong size
  • The item doesn't work as a reasonable person would expect it to work e.g. an LED makeup mirror which doesn't light up
  • The item is significantly different from the product images and description

You are NOT entitled to a refund because:

  • You just changed your mind
  • You found the product cheaper at another store
  • You don't like it
  • You bought the wrong size
  • The product has a fault that you knew about before you bought it. This includes instances where the fault was listed in the description.

I don't have my receipt. Can I still get a refund?

No, not generally.

Even if the item you bought is faulty, you still need to present a valid proof of purchase to be eligible for a repair, replacement or refund. You'll find that many retailers will accept returns without a proof of purchase but they are NOT legally required to.

A business has the right not to supply you with a repair, replacement or refund for a faulty item unless you show valid proof of purchase.

According to the ACCC, proof of purchase is defined as:

A receipt can come in the form of a:

  • A GST tax invoice or
  • A cash register or hand written receipt

Other types of proof of purchase include:

  • Credit or debit card statement
  • A lay-by agreement
  • A receipt or reference number given for phone or internet payments
  • A warranty card showing the supplier’s or manufacturer’s details and the date or amount of the purchase
  • A serial or production number linked with the purchase on the supplier’s or manufacturer’s database
  • A copy or photograph of the receipt

As long as you have one of these, you are legally entitled to a refund if your item is faulty.

What if a store is only offering a refund for store credit?

Store credit refunds are tricky. If you've returned something because you changed your mind or found the item cheaper somewhere else, then a business is entitled to deny a refund. But if businesses do decide to offer refunds in these instances, they can decide how to refund your money. So if the business only wants to issue store credit, then that is legally allowed.

In the case of faulty items, you're most certainly entitled to a remedy. If a business decides the best remedy is a refund then the business is required to issue a refund based on the original form of payment. Here is an excerpt from the ACCC:

"Refunds should be the same amount you have already paid, provided in the same form as your original payment."

This means that if you paid by Mastercard, the retailer will need to process the refund on your Mastercard. If you paid using cash, you should get cash back. But if you paid for your item using a gift card or credit note, then the store will provide your return in the form of a credit note.

The store I purchased from says it doesn't offer refunds. Is this allowed?

No, it's not. Stores displaying signs saying "no refunds" imply that they will not offer remedies in the case of a faulty items. This is illegal.

Regardless of what signs a store may have displayed, you will always be entitled to a refund if an item you bought doesn't meet its "consumer guarantee", e.g. it's damaged or doesn't work like it should.

You can read more on "no refund" signage in the ACCC's guide.

The item I bought is faulty. Can I get a refund?

This is the one instance where you're absolutely entitled to a remedy.

According to the ACCC, any product you buy must be of "acceptable quality". It must be "safe, lasting, with no faults" and most importantly it must "do all the things someone would normally expect them to do". For example, a kettle should be able to boil water or it would be considered faulty.

If you've purchased something, online or in-store, and it doesn't work as it should, then the business that sold it to you is required by law to provide you with a repair, a replacement or a refund. The business can choose which one of these three is most appropriate. But it shouldn't come at any extra cost to you and if it does, the business is required to compensate you for that extra cost.

Note: if you have "misused a product in any way that caused the problem" the item is not considered faulty and you are not entitled to a refund. This includes not following correct washing instructions.

What if I bought something online? Who pays for the return postage?

If you are returning something because you simply changed your mind, then you will often be required to pay for the return postage. Some online stores like THE ICONIC, Styletread or ASOS will offer "free returns" meaning they will cover the return postage charge, but they are not required by law to do so.

If you're returning a product because it's faulty and doesn't meet your consumer guarantees, then the remedy provided by the retailer should not come at any extra cost to you. And if it does, the business will be required to reimburse you. It is not required to reimburse the initial postage charges.

For example, if you purchase a dress online and when it arrives you find it has a broken zipper, the retailer would be required to cover the postage for sending the broken dress back. It can do this in a few ways including asking you to pay for the postage and then reimbursing you or sending you a prepaid postage label. In some instances, retailers will not require you to send back the broken item.

Some retailers will prefer you to cover the return charges in case the item isn't actually faulty. According to the ACCC:

"If the product is found not to have a problem, you may be required to pay the transport or inspection costs. An estimate of these costs should be provided to you before the product is collected, and the costs must not be inflated in an attempt to deter you from pursuing your claims."

Refund advice

It can be quite frustrating when stores do not offer refunds for "change of mind" or only for store credit. To prevent yourself from being caught in this situation, you can try to only shop with stores that have an open refund policy. Stores like THE ICONIC, David Jones and Myer will accept "change of mind" returns, so these are some of the safer stores to shop with.

It's also very important to keep your receipt. Even if your item is faulty, businesses can deny you a return if you don't have adequate proof of purchase. It's worth taking a photo of the receipt on your phone just in case you lose it. Photos of receipts are accepted.

With online purchases, the store is required to email you a receipt, so you should always have a copy unless you purposely delete it.

If you would like a digital receipt for an in-store purchase, you could try paying with PayPal or Afterpay in-store – some stores will accept these forms of payment at the counter. That way you will always have a digital footprint of your purchase.

If you believe you're entitled to a refund but a business is refusing, you can head to our getting your money back or complaints advice pages.

ACCC and Fair Trading refund policy

Here are the direct excerpts that discuss refunds from the Fair Trading and ACCC websites.

From Fair Trading: "You have the right to a repair, refund or replacement if goods or services bought in Australia (from 1 January 2011) do not meet one or more consumer guarantees. Guarantees apply to both major and minor problems. The type of remedy (e.g. a repair or a replacement or a refund) and who must provide it, will depend on the problem and which consumer guarantee was not met."

Consumer guarantees are defined by the ACCC in the below passage.

"Since 1 January 2011, the following consumer guarantees on products and services apply.

Products must be of acceptable quality, that is:

  • safe, lasting, with no faults
  • look acceptable
  • do all the things someone would normally expect them to do.

Acceptable quality takes into account what would normally be expected for the type of product and cost.

Products must also:

  • match descriptions made by the salesperson, on packaging and labels, and in promotions or advertising
  • match any demonstration model or sample you asked for
  • be fit for the purpose the business told you it would be fit for and for any purpose that you made known to the business before purchasing
  • come with full title and ownership
  • not carry any hidden debts or extra charges
  • come with undisturbed possession, so no one has a right to take the goods away or prevent you from using them
  • meet any extra promises made about performance, condition and quality, such as life time guarantees and money back offers
  • have spare parts and repair facilities available for a reasonable time after purchase unless you were told otherwise."

According to Fair Trading a business can refuse a refund on the following terms.

"A business may refuse to give you a free repair, replacement or refund if:

  • you simply changed your mind
  • you misused the product or service in any way that contributed to the problem
  • you asked for a service to be done in a certain way against the advice of the business or were unclear about what you wanted
  • a problem with a service was completely outside of the business’ control."

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10 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    CuriousNovember 7, 2019

    My question is, “if you purchase something online and get it delivered but it is damaged when being delivered are you entitled to a refund?”.

      Default Gravatar
      AshNovember 7, 2019

      Hi Curious,

      Thanks for contacting Finder.

      It will depend on the Terms and Conditions of the store to whom you have made the purchase. If the item that you have received is faulty, the merchant is entitled to provide you either a repair, replacement or refund. There are requirements that the merchant will be requesting you like a picture of the fault, tagging must not be removed and/ or the item/s must be on their original packaging for them to process the refund or replacement.

      I hope this helps.


    Default Gravatar
    LizSeptember 19, 2019

    Hi there,

    I purchased 2 cases of alcohol and paid via PAYPAL. The seller has stated that they do not free deliver interstate and I need to collect. I have asked for a refund. The seller has now put the cases up $5 and asking me to pay extra $30 delivery as well. There was nothing on the website about charging delivery interstate. And honestly I don’t think the info was there about only delivering within Victoria before. I haven’t changed my mind and I simply ordered thinking I got free delivery. What’s your advice?


      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniSeptember 21, 2019Staff

      Hi Liz,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      If it is not clearly stated about the interstate delivery, you have the right to cancel the transaction and have a refund. Please get in touch with the seller and show them proof that they did not state this clearly. If they don’t, you may ask to discuss this with their complaints team and have it escalated to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    anonymousAugust 16, 2019

    Hi there,

    I made a purchase a while back at a location distant from me. It was my intention to have a day trip there and pick it up at an appropriate time. I was told that this item was an exclusive pick-up only item which was fine for me. I paid with my Visa card online and there was a bit of delay (couple weeks) for me to go up to the place because I was very busy with work. However, upon going there, the owner told me that he had shipped the item off to my address given that the store was closing down. He said that my order was pending an address which I gave him that day. He told me from then that I would receive it in 5 days. I never did. I checked the online receipt and it does appear to have listed my shipping address so I get the feeling he blatantly lied to my face. I emailed him and he said that he had lodged an inquiry to the fulfilment company and was pending an address. It has been over 3 weeks and he has still not gotten back to me. Am I entitled to a refund to my card. He did state that he was closing down his store a while back, though interestingly, it has been weeks since he made that announcement. I’d like to resolve this ASAP because I don’t want this to hinder my ability to get a refund. My goods have not been provided within a “reasonable time”. I am about to call his store up but before I do that, I would like to know whether I’m actually entitled to a refund.

    Thank you

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiAugust 17, 2019

      Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Sorry to hear about your situation. From your explanation, a refund may be valid given the store/merchant’s shipping and refund policy. If your order was promised a delivery time of 5 days, it should have arrived then otherwise he should refund you and arrange a return to the sender from the fulfillment company.

      Hope this helps. Feel free to reach out to us again for further assistance.


    Default Gravatar
    JOAugust 1, 2019

    I recently returned some light fitting I purchased online. They were not faultly but did not fit in the required area but the company had no problem with me returning them.
    As expected I was asked to pay the shipping costs to return the items but they also made me the cost of shipping the item to me, which I had already paid when I ordered the item and had it shipped. Effectively I paid to have the product shipped to me twice plus pay the return shipping costs. Surely this is unethical.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiAugust 2, 2019

      Hi Jo,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Sorry to hear about your experience. It’s good to know that you were able to return the products you bought. Regarding shipping fees, it would be best to check their shipping and returns policy to see if costs are shouldered by customer for a return this way you can dispute any costs not stated in their policies.

      Hope this helps!


    Default Gravatar
    AdrienneOctober 5, 2018

    I am the onsite manager in a small holiday accommodation business. A guest has booked 1 night through a third party online booking agent – a deposit is always taken – first night tariff, therefore the full amount of their stay. The booking was made inside of the allowed 30 day cancellation period, now the guest wants to cancel & get a full refund. At the time of booking, it is made very clear to the guest before they make that final click that the booking in non-refundable. I have told the guest that there is no refund available to her but she has the option to change her dates. The booking agent (to whom I pay commissions to do their job) has put this back onto me. I genuinely feel sorry for the guest but what is the point of having terms & conditions if you can’t seem to uphold them, and obviously while getting no help at all from the booking agent?

    I just want clarification that I am doing the right thing.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniOctober 7, 2018Staff

      Hi Adrienne,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Customer’s right to cancel a booking will be subject to the accommodation provider’s terms and conditions unless a major failure has occurred. It is best that they read the small print before they book. Customers can’t just cancel because they changed mind, booked the wrong product or found it cheaper elsewhere. If they do, they may be charged a cancellation fee. You may read more on ACCC’s travel and accommodation guide.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


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