Mother’s Day is on its way, so no matter whether you’re looking for a gift online or in-store, remember that you have the same consumer rights if things go wrong.
The Australian Consumer Law protects you if the gift is faulty, breaks down, doesn’t work as it should or is not what you ordered, and the trader should take steps to help fix the issue.
However, refunds aren’t always an automatic right if you’re not sure whether mum will like her gift. Businesses don’t have to give you a refund if you buy the wrong size or colour, or simply change your mind. While some businesses still offer refunds in these situations to provide good customer service, it’s not a legal requirement — so always check the store’s returns policy before committing to buy.
If you’re thinking of giving mum a gift card, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions. Most gift cards and vouchers must come with a minimum three-year expiry period, with the expiry date to be clearly displayed. We also recommend using the gift card as soon as possible to avoid disappointment if the business changes hands or closes down.
Online shoppers should always research the retailer they are planning to do business with to avoid being scammed. Checking online reviews is important, but be aware that fake reviews can exist too. Also check the URL displays the correct domain name.
When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service such as credit card or PayPal, and look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol. Be suspicious if the only way to pay is via a non-secure payment method, such as direct bank transfer or cryptocurrency, because money sent this way is unlikely to be recovered if something goes wrong.
Once you’ve decided to proceed with a purchase, carefully read the terms and conditions and understand any cancellation or change fees before clicking “pay now”. Check delivery timeframes as cut off times may apply for peak periods, and remember to screenshot or save any documentation, receipts or confirmation emails.
For more information on how the Australian Consumer Law protects your purchases, visit: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/your-consumer-rights-under-acl
Candice Evans is senior regional officer for Consumer Protection in the Mid West and Murchison