Can't get refund for online purchase, only a store credit offered

I recently purchased a dress online from an Australian boutique. I read their returns policy and it clearly said that I could get a refund on the following terms.
Returns and Exchanges for Online Purchases

Should your item not fit or not be suitable, please contact us via phone or email so we know of your intention to return your order. Please note that items must be returned to us in ‘as new’ condition, with all tags attached and within seven days of receiving your order to be eligible for a full refund. For all refunds we retain a $9.95 Postage and Processing fee. Please return your item with a tracking number or signature on delivery as Stage One Fashions will not be responsible for returns that do not reach us. Please note the return postage costs are at the customers expense.
Please also note that due to health regulations we are unable to exchange pierced earrings.
If you receive an item in faulty condition, it may be returned to us, including the postage receipt for a full refund of the item and return postage costs.
The sale of reduced items is final and no exchanges or refunds will be issued.

I am definitely eligible for a refund and I have completed all the necessary criteria, however they said they don’t give refunds, only store credit. The purchase was for over $400 and I don’t like anything else at this store. What are my rights in this situation? Thanks

2 Likes

Welcome to the Community @mary61

search the Community for the Australian Consumer Law and you will find member advice, and links to Choice and ACCC advice.

On first read it appears the shop may be violating the ACL and possibly in more than one way. I suggest, if you have not yet, put everything in writing and send the shop a formal ‘Letter of Complaint’ noting the advice on how to write one on the Community, as well as the tools to assist writing one from Choice and the ACCC.

For other member’s benefit, which boutique shop is it so they can be forewarned about the business practices?

Please let us know how you go after reading about your rights, or if you need further guidance.

3 Likes

Hi @mary61, welcome to the community and you are not alone in finding it difficult to resolve an issue with an online trader.

Change of Mind

The condition you have posted mainly relates to a Change in Mind, as it is about a product which doesn’t fit or is not suitable for some reason after its receipt (say style doesn’t look good on or the cut isn’t flattering for your body shape).

Change in Minds sit outside the Australian Consumer Law (unlike product defects which are covered by the consumer guarantee) and a store can chose whether they accept change if minds, and if they do, under what conditions. The condition you have outlined has been set by the store as their change if mind policy.

It is challenging when a store sets a change of mind policy and then doesn’t honour their policy.

If it is a Change of Mind, at this stage, about all you can do is write to them outlining their change of mind policy, why you believe you meet this policy and formally requesting a refund under the policy. It appears you may have already done this by your post.

If you have, the only option may be to take them to the Office if Fair Trading in your own state, making a claim against them for jot honouring their change in mind policy. If the business is an overseas company masquerading as an Australian business, getting any resolution in the long term might be very challenging as they may chose to ignore any direction given from the Office of Fair Trading.

Product Defects

If your issue is a product was defective on its receipt, and is covered by the one sentence close to the end of the condition, this comes under the Australian Consumer Law. A defect may be a tear or zip doesn’t work through a manufacturing defect or a fabric printing problem.

Their clause associated with products received seems reasonable and would meet the ACL as they will refund the cost if the item and the postage you paid to return it to them. Whether they honour this, like that outlined above, another issue.

It would be good to know who the retailer is (to check they are Australian and if there are other terms and conditions which are relevant) and the nature of the issue you have with the purchase you made.

Once the information is posted, we will be able to provide further advice.

2 Likes

Hi. Thank you for the great feedback. The trading name is Stage One Fashions, Goondiwindi, QLD.

2 Likes

Hi. Thank you for the great feedback. The trading name is Stage One Fashions, Goondiwindi, QLD.

3 Likes

There is a possible exception to the above being a ‘change of mind’ mentioned by @phb IF the product is wrongly sized. For example if the label says it is a size 14 and it clearly isn’t (either too small or too big) then that may be a major fault under ACL. Please note that being said that there is no standard for clothing sizing here in Australia as has been discussed elsewhere in this forum.

When writing the polite factual formal letter of complaint @PhilT has suggested, you may wish to include that you are also going to in form the ACCC of their violation of the ACL. Sometimes that brings about a quick change of heart.

Did you buy the item as an ‘on sale’?
A lot of online sellers have a no refunds policy for change of mind for on sale items. And no surprise that a lot of what is on the site is on sale items.
Stage One Fashions is the same in this regard. They even make it clear in bold type.

A business with a real store in a town famous for a grey race horse. It seems to have a broad range of products including feminine fashions from size 8-20.

One might expect with numerous glowing reviews including from the local ladies sizing issues with their stock would soon come to notice. Have you followed up with a phone call to discuss the return further?

Sometimes looking locally for help to resolve is useful.
https://www.goondiwindiargus.com.au/

Our local rag is adept at pointing one to the right person to get assistance in resolving what are relatively trivial issues with local business.

They also state on their website that.

GIFT VOUCHERS, JEWELLERY and SALE ITEMS are not eligible for change of mind policy (sizing, style, change of circumstance etc).

It appears that you missed this final sentence in your cut and paste.

Was the item you purchased jewellery or a sale item. If this is the case and it is a change of mind, they indicate that their refund/change of mind policy does not apply. If it was one of these items, the store credit will potentially be the best you can get as they don’t have to provide you with a resolution if they chose.

They also state:

Please contact us immediately if you intend to exchange/store credit your item via email

It appears that you may have requested a exchange, which it appears from this sentence, might only be a store credit.

Reading this, the refund for other changes or minds may also be in the form of a store credit. The T&Cs on the website aren’t overly clear to remove any doubt. It is worth noting that the website doesn’t state a (change of mind) refund in the method that payment was made or in cash. If you have a change of mind which satisfies the requirement for a refund, it could be read that this is in the form of a store credit. A store credit in such cases would be valid form of resolution.

Note: giving a store credit for a faulty product, instead of cash, would be illegal under the ACL.

A bottom line is that some online stores have more consumer friendly policies than others, some have customer abusive policies, and some have vague policies that do not cover 100% of every possible aberration so the customer is essentially at their mercy/good will.

Consumers need to read the T&C as boring as they may be prior to purchasing to ID sites that are not customer friendly to changes of mind.

This is a gold standard one should look for, and if not seen shop elsewhere

If for any reason you are not satisfied with your online purchase (including sale items), you may return the items for a refund.

I think it was a,

No need to go over the other details. Assuming it is not a sale item the T&Cs seem very clear, but that is for @mary61 to clarify.

Hi. Thanks for the suggestions. Will take that on board.

1 Like

No I paid full price for the item. And, they charged me postage. Their website clearly says free postage for items over $99. My purchase was almost four times that amount.

The dress was too big on me, but with different brands sizing is always different so this was not their fault. It was also too long, but with the scalloped lace edging, taking the hem up is not an option. Thanks for your input.

The purchase was not a gift voucher, not jewellery and not a sale item. Sorry about the cut and paste omission, I didn’t include that bit as it didn’t apply to me. I did contact them immediately and I have returned the dress well within the required time frame. They received it yesterday. I’m certain I have met all the criteria.

1 Like

Exactly. It’s there in black and white. I will be writing a letter of complaint.

It was a full priced dress and they charged me $17 for express postage. It clearly says on their website that it’s free postage for postage over $99.

A number of vendors have free postage options but in checkout they default to ‘express’ at a cost. It is misleading and something to watch for. The ‘express’ often is estimated to arrive only 1 day earlier than ‘standard’ and with Auspost one cannot depend on it either way.

Check to see if you are a victim of that, that could be considered misleading conduct.

Please let us know how it goes or if you need anything further.

1 Like

Hi. I emailed the store this morning stating that I believed I was well within my rights to ask for a refund. I received an email back. It reads like this…

“”"The dress arrived back in store Thursday just after I left and I have only arrived back today. I have issued a credit in store and your code is :@@@@@

I am very sorry you feel you have to take this further. I am a very small business that in the last 5 years have dealt with drought ,Covid, border closures and floods and am trying to keep my head above water. Due to this I don’t have the cash flow of larger business and why I can’t do cash refunds.
I looked into this through the legal avenues also and also with my contact at the Office of Fair Trading and was advised that I am well within my rights, that I do not need to offer cash refunds.
I understand as a customer this is something people look for before purchasing and this is why as per photo attached , it is clearly stated on the homepage so customers can than choose to not shop with me, this was a decision I didn’t make lightly as I knew I would have people not shop from my website because of this but I would rather customers know this straight up as I just don’t have the cashflow to offer this service and this is why there are a large number of small businesses online that don’t offer cash refunds and only credit in store.

The postage is free on orders over $100 but is normal post if a customer needs it sent express than they pay the postage.

Again, I am disappointed your shopping experience wasn’t one you loved with us as I do try my hardest to make it a pleasant experience and for my customers to be happy.""

I did not see the statement on the home page but she sent me a screen shot and it reads:

“Please note we offer credit in store but no cash refunds! All items Purchased on Sale are final! No returns or credit instore!”

I feel this statement is ambiguous and if they are stressing that they give NO REFUNDS at all, why does it read differently in the Returns Terms section?

Any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks again.

1 Like

Small business, not paying attention to a discepancy in what is in the returns policy.
It does say they will give a refund. I read it.

If I were you, I’d download a full copy of the T and Cs before it gets changed just in case you want to go further.

Maybe QCAT, or at least indicate that is where you are going if they won’t honour their published policy.