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Buying aids and equipment from overseas

There are a number of things you need to think about before deciding to buy aids and equipment overseas.

Buying aids and equipment that suit your needs

Do you know what aids and equipment you need to buy, as well as the functional purpose it needs to serve? Speak to an expert, such as an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist, they will help you work out if the product you want to buy will really meet your needs.

Most aids and equipment purchased from overseas will need to be modified to meet an individual's requirements. Before you make a purchase, consider:

  • can the aids and equipment can be modified and how long will it take to make the necessary changes.
  • is there a qualified person is available to help you with any changes and ongoing maintenance support, including finding spare parts or performing repairs. If ongoing maintenance support isn't available, it may cause you inconvenience and cost you more money to find this support elsewhere. If the parts can't be sourced locally, you may be faced with additional costs and lengthy delays if your aids or equipment break down.
  • what assembly will be required and is there a qualified person is available to help you with this after you receive your purchase. You also need to think about the likely cost that may be involved. A person who is qualified to help you with setting up aids and equipment can help to make sure that they are correctly—and safely—set up for ongoing use.

Questions to ask before you buy

Here are some questions you might like to ask before you buy:

  • Do the aids or equipment meet Australian safety standards? These standards have been set to protect buyers from purchasing products that can be faulty or stop working properly.
  • Are the aids or equipment covered by Australian Consumer Law? You should check terms and conditions before you buy. Consumer guarantees that apply if you buy from an Australian-based online seller do not necessarily apply if you buy from an overseas-based online seller. If you'd like to find out more, you can read the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's booklet, Consumer guarantees: a guide for consumers.
  • Is the seller reputable? If something looks ‘too-good-to-be-true', it often is. If you are still unsure, get a second opinion from a person that you trust.
  • Is the price right, and do you know about any hidden costs? You can ‘shop around' online to work out if you are getting a fair deal from a genuine seller. Make sure that you know the details of what you intend to buy—size, colour, value and safety. Read any fine print about the purchase, including any hidden costs that you might not know about that relate to currency, postage, handling or any other charges.
  • Does the seller offer a guarantee or warranty and, if so, do they still apply if the aids or equipment is used in another country? What about a trial of the product before you buy? If these additional services are available, will they be practical for you to use? Is it likely they might involve additional costs or delays that you can't afford—or that will cause you an inconvenience or affect how you meet your needs?

When you decide to buy

Exchanging money online can be tricky, and you need to make sure that your privacy and security are protected. The Protect your financial identity website suggests online shoppers:

  • only pay using a secure webpage with a valid digital certificate. Having 'https' at the start of the address bar and a locked padlock in the browser are indicators a webpage is secure.
  • only use a secure payment method such as PayPal, BPay, or your credit card. Money transfers and direct debit can be less reliable.
  • never send bank or credit card details using email. Instead, only ever supply this information on a webpage that is secure.
  • always print and keep a copy of the transaction for your own records.

Videos about avoiding internet scams

Internet Scams: How to Protect is a YouTube channel that includes a series of accessible videos with information about how to avoid various types of scams on the internet. The videos were developed by the Western Australian Deaf Society, with support provided by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

Your rights

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has an online guide, Shopping online, that includes information about your online rights, as well as what to do when you have a problem and how to deal with an online seller.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated:
6 October 2017
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