Once the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) comes into effect in October 2010, refund policies will have to conform to the following guidelines.

Question of the Week: I recently bought a product from a mail order catalogue, but am not happy with what arrived in the post. Will the Consumer Protection Act make it any easier for me to return my purchase?
Yes, the process of returning goods will be much easier and simpler once the Act comes into effect. If you did not have a chance to see the product before it was delivered to you, you will be able to get a full refund if you return it within 10 business days. Read the information below to find out more.


What you need to know:

  • According to Chapter 2, Section 56, a consumer can return goods to a supplier within 6 months of their delivery, if the goods fail to satisfy the agreed standards and requirements (which state that the goods must be in good working order, free of defects etc – see Section 55 for details). This return must take place without penalty and at the supplier’s risk and expense.
  • The supplier must either repair or replace the failed, unsafe or defective goods, or refund the consumer.
  • If there is a problem with the repaired good within the next 3 months, the supplier must replace it or refund the consumer.
  • Chapter 2, Section 20 states that a consumer can return goods to a supplier and receive a full refund within 10 business days if the supplier has delivered:
    • goods as a result of direct marketing and the consumer has cancelled the agreement during the cooling off period (Read more about cooling off periods here). In this instance, the goods must be returned at the risk and expense of the consumer.
    • goods that the consumer did not have an opportunity to examine before delivery, and has rejected on delivery (Read more about examining goods before purchase here). These goods must be returned at the risk and expense of the supplier.
  • However, it is important to note that this does not apply where:
    • The goods concerned have been disassembled, altered, permanently installed or combined with other goods; or
    • There is a public regulation prohibiting the return of the goods.
  • If the goods concerned have been used or need to be repackaged, the supplier may charge the consumer a “reasonable amount” for this inconvenience.

Interesting Fact:
The CPA is clear that these sections of the Act are in addition to any other right in law between a supplier and consumer to return goods and receive a refund. The section does not replace any existing rights.

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