Don't get caught out by refund and exchange policies

CHRISTMAS shoppers have been warned to watch out for incorrect refund and exchange policies as thousands of people flock to shopping centres around the nation to take advantage of post-Christmas sales.

Industry experts estimated more than $1 billion would be spent nationwide on Boxing Day alone when department and chain stores prepared to clear their shelves.

NSW is expected to reap the biggest post-Christmas shopping rewards with the Australian Retailers' Association predicting $4.5 billion would be spent from Boxing Day until mid-January.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said on Wednesday afternoon sales looked to be on track to meet the predicted targets.

"What I'm gathering is retailers are all pretty happy with what is going on and appear to be pretty busy," he said.
"Queensland and NSW are trading quite strongly."

Mr Zimmerman said men's and women's fashion was the hottest sale category followed by manchester.

He said household goods were not selling as well on Boxing Day but he expected that to pick up over the coming days.

Despite widespread discounting in the lead-up to Christmas, Mr Zimmerman said it had not been as heavily discounted as previous years and pre-Christmas sales was not expected to have a negative impact on post-Christmas sale numbers.

Meanwhile, consumer advocates are warning eager shoppers not to get caught out by refund and exchange policies.

Choice said shoppers were entitled to a refund, replacement or repair if an item was faulty, did not do the job it was supposed to do or did not match the advertised description.

The consumer advocacy organisation states Australian Consumer Law also prevents online and in store retailers from "misleading or deceiving shoppers about where a product is made or how much it costs"

"Even if the item is covered by a manufacturer's warranty the retailer can't avoid dealing with the problem.

Warranties do not replace or restrict your rights to a refund, replacement or repair if a product is faulty," Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just said.

Ms Just added post-Christmas bargain-hunters should not be put off by "no refund" signs.

"Unless a product is clearly marked as a 'second' or is discounted due to defects that were made clear at the time of purchase, your rights to a refund, repair or replacement of a broken or faulty item still stands," Ms Just said.

But retailers were not compelled to provide a refund if a person simply changed their mind, Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie added.

Mr Bleijie had also warned shoppers to be wary of gift voucher terms and conditions considering 30% of the $1.5 billion spent on gift cards annually was not redeemed.

Topics:  boxing day sales christmas editors picks refunds shopping

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