You’ve bought a dress and after three months you notice the fabric has a flaw in it. Or you bought a jacket and you’ve decided you don’t want it, you’ve changed your mind. Can you get your money back? Know your rights.
The following is in relation to clothing and accessories, though generally extends to all other household and personal items. This is a summary and not intended as a legal opinion. For detailed information on your consumer rights:
The first and most important piece of advice is hold on to your receipts. And be sure to hold on to them for at least six months. Without your receipt, your proof of purchase, in most cases you are powerless.
Return, Exchange and Refund Policies
Most retailers, be it a store or online, have return, exchange and refund policies. It is really important to familarise yourself with these before committing to a purchase. Many retailers have their policy visible by their payment counter. Policies differ from retailer to retailer.
- Limited time period in which to return goods
- Full refund, store credit or goods can be exchanged for something else
- Proof of purchase is required, your receipt.
Online vs Store Purchase
The returns policies for most retailers are a lot more favourable for online purchases simply because you don’t have the benefit of being able to see the physical product before you buy. Most online stores will provide you with a full refund (excluding delivery charges) as long as the goods are returned in original, re-saleable condition, complete with packaging, swingtags and proof of purchase. However, some online stores stipulate that goods are for final purchase and no refunds are available. It is important to check these details before making the purchase.
Be sure you are buying from a reputable site.
Laws that apply to over-the-counter sales also apply to internet sales.
Within New Zealand, you are not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act and legally have no comeback if the goods are faulty and need replacing, you are reliant on the seller and the auction site. However, you are covered by the Fair Trading Act, which means the auction site cannot mislead the public about goods or services for sale, or making false representations about those goods or services.
Private Seller - if you are buying from a private seller through an online auction site you are NOT covered by the Fair Trading Act or the Consumer Guarantees Act.
Overseas auction sites - the laws of your country do not protect you. Be sure you understand terms of trade before committing.
In most cases, items that are on sale are not eligible for return or refund.
By law, businesses must provide goods that meet certain quality guarantees. If the goods are faulty and do not meet one of these guarantees, you have the rights to have the problem sorted by the retailer or manufacturer. The retailer (or manufacturer) may replace the item with another, offer you an exchange, full credit or store credit, or they may send the item away for testing and further investigation.
Goods that have not been cared for or used as intended, are not covered. For example, you have machine washed an item that the care instructions clearly state ‘dryclean only’.
Change of Mind
Retailers are not obliged to take the goods back and issue a refund simply because you have changed your mind. There are some stores, not many I might add, that offer ‘appro’ (cash approval) - where you provide payment (but it’s not banked), take the goods and you have so many days to return the goods otherwise you will be charged. Goods obviously have to be returned in good, original condition, etc.
If you’re unsure about the item/s you’re about to purchase, be sure to check with the retailer that you can in fact bring them back if you change your mind and whether or not you get a full refund, store credit or you have to exchange the goods for something else.
An Unwanted Gift
If you’re buying something for someone and you’re a little unsure if they’ll like it, ask for an exchange card.
Remember to keep all your receipts for at least six months.