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When you can get a refund

Refunds aren’t always an automatic right. Businesses don’t have to give you a refund if you:

  • change your mind
  • buy the wrong size
  • buy the wrong colour.

Some businesses still offer refunds in these situations. This is their choice and not a legal requirement.

You are always entitled to a refund, repair or replacement if a consumer guarantee is not met. The remedy you're entitled to will depend on whether the issue is major or minor.

Refund methods

Businesses will usually give you a refund in the same way that you originally paid them. This might be cash, cheque, money order or electronic transaction. They won’t give you the refund in cash unless that’s how you paid them.

Businesses don’t always have cash available, even if you paid cash originally. If this is the case, they must give you the refund in another form. Some businesses might offer replacement items, exchanges or credit notes instead of a refund. You can insist on a refund if a consumer guarantee entitles you to one.

Refund conditions

In most cases, a business cannot place fees or conditions on a refund or exchange. This includes restocking fees.

They can only place fees or conditions on a refund if they:

  • aren’t legally required to give you the refund
    and
  • clearly displayed these terms in writing, either in store or on your receipt.

Returning the product

You are generally responsible for returning the product if it can be posted or easily returned. You are entitled to recover reasonable postage or transportation costs from the business if the product is confirmed to have a problem, so keep your receipts.

When a product is too large, too heavy or too difficult to remove, the business is responsible for paying the shipping costs or collecting the product within a reasonable time of being notified of the problem. Examples include:

  • a widescreen TV
  • a bed
  • an extension ladder stuck in the extended position
  • a product that has been subsequently installed, like a stove or dishwasher.

You do not have to return products in the original packaging to get a refund.

If the product is found not to have a problem, you may need to pay the transport and inspection costs. An estimate of these costs should be provided to you before the product is collected, and the costs must not be inflated to discourage you from pursuing your claims.

No refund signs and expired warranties

Signs stating ‘No refunds’ or ‘No refunds or exchanges on sale items’ are unlawful because they imply that it’s not possible to get a refund under any circumstances, including for faulty items. In fact, your consumer guarantee rights still apply.

Businesses don’t have to give you a refund or exchange if you simply change your mind. Always check the store’s returns policy.

Your rights under the consumer guarantees do not have a specific expiry date and can apply even after any warranties you’ve got from a business have expired.

Businesses changing owners

Usually, the new owner of a business doesn’t have to give you a refund unless they made the sale.

In some cases, the new owner does take responsibility for repairing faulty products. Check with the business for what they will offer. You still have the right to pursue a complaint with the manufacturer if the retailer doesn’t help.