How to address a fraudulent transaction and your rights as a consumer.
There are at least two sides to every story. The right that Australian consumers have to refund products or services is no different. Let's take a look at what a refund is and when you have the right to it.
Refunds on fraudulent behaviour on your bank account or debit card
Generally, you are entitled to a refund if there is a fraudulent transaction on your debit card or bank account. You need to make sure that you’ve notified your bank as soon as possible and you didn’t contribute to the loss.
But, as with most products and services and especially financial products, you will need to properly establish what is covered by reading through the terms and conditions thoroughly.
It's advised that you double-check whether you have fallen victim to fraudulent behaviour, or whether it is a merchant dispute. After you have verified this information, you can follow the following steps:
- Contact the merchant or website if possible as soon as you can
- Gather your records
- Proof of counterfeit or damaged goods
- Call your card issuer and put in a claim
What is a refund and when do you have the right to a refund?
A refund basically is when a business accepts the return of a faulty product or service and gives your money back for the purchase you made. Some businesses offer replacements or repairs for the faulty product or service along with the refund option. There can be various levels of value-added services attached to a refund, e.g. free return shipping or adding a voucher for the inconvenience caused.
Businesses can only promise the function and long-lasting quality of products and services if they are willing to agree on guarantee requirements under the Australian Consumer Law. This same law then requires businesses to accept refunds or offer repairs and replacements if their products and services don't deliver on their promised function and quality.
That in short is a foundation for you to understand why you have the right to a refund. There are a couple of situations that can lead to you acting on that right to a refund as a consumer. We've listed them shortly below before taking a look at your own responsibility when claiming refunds:
- Faulty goods and services - the product or service is faulty in either its function, safety, durability, or has manufacturing defects.
- Doesn't match expectations created - the product or service delivered to you doesn't match the sample you chose and then bought.
- The product doesn't match what you bought - this happens when a product you bought actually has an entirely different part or material than what is advertised.
- You got ripped off - sometimes you get sold something that has actually been used in-store or just very simply is not close to what you were sold.
The three qualifying criteria for owning up to the right to a refund
The real deal when buying and selling in Australia is that consumers are well covered and protected by the Australian Consumer Law. But, as with many good things, they are often taken for a ride by the people meant to be protected. Australian consumers are also responsible for handling their rights to a refund professionally and with integrity. So, with that said...
Integrity and honesty
The first and probably most important responsibility for you to own up to your right to a refund, is to act with integrity. A lot of businesses extend more than their share of goodwill, e.g. allowing people to return clothing after its been worn and labels were torn off. Sadly, many consumers misuse this value-added offer. Other consumers will accidentally damage a product and return it as a faulty. The list goes on and you can just use your imagination! So, before claiming that right to a return, make sure you're acting with integrity.
Keep your ducks, or receipts, in a row
There're few things more frustrating for businesses than when someone wants to return a product or service but have none of the necessary items with them. This includes original purchase receipts, labels, any necessary documentation (like agreements) and the likes. Most businesses are more than willing to comply with a refund but are forced to scramble around for a disgruntled customer because the customer didn't keep track of their purchases.
Double-minded or double-crossed?
It happens to everyone, the post-traumatic stress of buyer's remorse. Fortunately, most businesses understand it too and will offer a grace period for returning goods that a consumer has changed their mind about. But, as acting with integrity, the ball is in your court to not misuse the privilege. If everyone had to play this to their advantage, a business will surely enough have to exercise more strict rules.