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Returns Policy for Personalised Items

Discussion in 'Starting a business' started by meagss, May 27, 2012.

  1. meagss

    meagss New Member

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    (Sorry - this is a repeat message as I posted the other in the incorrect category).

    It's been 3 years since I started my online website and for the first time ever last week, a customer has mailed back her personalised necklace insisting she's not happy with it and would like a full refund (not a replacement).

    To be honest, on looking at the necklace again, it isn't up to standard and I'm not surprised she complained. I contacted her and apologised, but stated that as per our Returns Policy, personalised items weren't entitled to a refund, however I am more than happy to re-make the product for her.

    A week went past with nothing further and then today she has emailed me with links and paragraphs quoted from the ACCC and Office of Fair Trading website implying she is entitled to a refund or exchange (who decides which??) and - something I had no idea about - that if shops have "No Refund" signage, it is actually illegal.

    There are literally hundreds of websites selling personalised items that I have come across and just about all of them have their policy along the same lines I do - i.e. that they'll gladly exchange/re-make the personalised item but not refund. Have ALL of us got it completely wrong??

    It's no biggie to refund her - she's not happy and I don't want to make it so painful for her that she's going to end up hating me and bad-mouthing me to anyone she comes across, but just out of curiosity - ARE the consumer laws for returning personalised products the same as returning a pair of shoes to KMart (for example)?

    Thank you for any knowledge / advice!
  2. victorng

    victorng Well-Known Member

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    Generally, yes. A personalised item that is defective is still defective regardless of the fact that it is personalised and consumer protection laws will protect the consumer.
  3. meagss

    meagss New Member

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    Thank you for your reply, victorng.

    Very interesting. Looks like I will have to change my returns policy then.

    At least I'll feel better (I suppose) knowing I'm one of the only ones out there in my industry who's got it legally right!
  4. MatthewKeath

    MatthewKeath Well-Known Member

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    Came here to say this, but I am glad it came from a real lawyer.
  5. Couple It

    Couple It Well-Known Member

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    I attended an ACCC workshop recently and they were very helpful.

    Give them a call and get their business package. It has all the relevant information and the ACCC are more than happy to help small business get it right. They're not out to get you, they want to make sure you understand your responsibilities - and you have rights too lol

    Wendy :)

    PS There are different actions depending on whether or not it is a major or minor fault. The package tells you how to determine which type of fault it is, and therefore which actions are allowable.
    Last edited: May 27, 2012
  6. Kennethti

    Kennethti Well-Known Member

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    Wendy's right. New legislation was introduced in 2010 under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2011C00003) that overhauled the Trade Practices Act 1974, streamlining consumer protection laws all over Australia.

    The Australian Consumer Law is attached as a schedule (schedule 2) to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 where it sets out statutory guarantees for your goods that cannot be waived. These are "minimum requirements" and cover matters such as goods having an acceptable quality and are free from defects.

    The Australian Consumer Law also sets out in what happens if there is a failure to comply with the guarantees and in what circumstances is a consumer entitled to a full refund. As Wendy has said these failures are divided into minor failures and major failures. Different options are available to the consumer and the vendor depending on the nature of the failure.

    Some more information about the Australian Consumer Law can be found at http://www.consumerlaw.gov.au/content/Content.aspx?doc=home.htm.

    The ACCC also assists in relation to the ACL and have published some material here http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/969419

    If you're still confused about this stuff drop us an e-mail.
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  7. victorng

    victorng Well-Known Member

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    I was being a little too brief - see what Kenneth and Wendy have said about major vs minor. I re-read your original post and it isn't exactly clear what the problem with the item is so my calling it 'defective' may not have been accurate.

    Cheers,
    Victor
  8. meagss

    meagss New Member

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    Thank you so much everyone for all your help, you've been a wealth of info.

    Victorng, I ended up graciously giving my customer the refund as the problem fell into the 'major' category i.e. she thought the item she received didn't look like it did on the website (misrepresentation of a product / false advertising). She was right - it didn't and I quite openly admit the craftsmanship of it was not up to the standard it should have been.

    Of course I would have much rather have remade the item for her to an acceptable standard, but she wasn't happy with that option and wanted nothing other than a refund - to which I believe she was quite within her rights.

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