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

Page 8 of this ACCC document addresses refunds vs store credits when the item/transaction breaches statutory conditions. However this return appears to come under ‘change of mind’ and change of mind policies are at the discretion of the business.

Finder is usually reader friendly, accurate, and cuts through lots of unnecessary verbiage. The second section applies.

The crux of the problem is that the shop web site had conflicting statements, one on the home page that was not noticed, and another on the returns policy page.

The one on the home page is aligned to the bottom frame in black and white and not as noticeable as it probably should be, but probably serves as the notice having been posted.

It appears the statements on the home page and the T&C page have been coordinated. ie. too late if not previously snapped.

Small businesses are not unique in failing to assure coordinated and consistent messages. but when they error they are usually more forthcoming in copping it to satisfy the customer and many customers have been doing it tough also.

It is not obvious to me how a CAT would rule since it is apparently not an intent, but is an administrative/production error since corrected. Since it is a change of mind I suspect the shop would prevail on the balance of probability.

As for the ‘not free’ postage you need to look at your tax invoice to see if you consciously selected or unconsciously accepted an express option at your cost.

Sorry, but that is all I have and not what you wanted to hear.

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Thank you again so much for your reply. The black and white notice on the home page was added after I contacted them about getting a refund. They also added red writing to the T&Cs stating no refund, but did not remove the old bit which said that a refund was allowed for online purchases. I brought this to their attention saying that they changed the policy after my purchase and that it still said online purchases could be refunded. I now notice that they removed the “returns/refund given” section overnight. They are being very sneaky and deceitful. I would not have made this purchase if I wasn’t sure I could return for a refund!!! They won’t get any good reviews from me!

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In the early days of ecommerce I had a similar problem and while talking to the business on the phone trying to resolve it, web pagea up in front of me, they changed the web site to support their position in real time. That was when I learned to take snaps of everything before embarking on a dialogue or claim.

When you purchased, was there any terms and conditions displayed at checkout.

In addition to this, was there any terms or conditions attached to the confirmation email (assuming you received one?

It these were silent…

It is a shame that their policy wasn’t reflected on their website (or wasn’t clear in relation to change if mind nor product guarantees.

I hope that the business reviews their decision in your circumstances and comes to a amicable resolution.

Believe me I have the before and after screen shots but they don’t want to honour the before one.

I don’t remember if terms and conditions were displayed at checkout but I do know that I actively looked for them before paying and found that online purchases were eligible for a refund if not suitable. Yes I hope they honour their word and give me a refund. I don’t have money like that to just throw away on purchases that I don’t want via the store credit they have issued. I’m working on ways to have them discredited for what they did to me if they don’t change their mind.

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While they may be within their rights as they replied, if you have evidence of their ‘offer’ (eg the web page snips before and after) you could hang your hat on misleading advertising, a different issue than just a change of mind refund.

If an ‘offer’ was made with a published T&C indicating a refund could be had for a change of mind, and that was what enticed you to purchase from them, and they then refused to honour that, it should be something Fair Trading should take up.

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Be very very careful. As they are a small business, if you do something publically and be seen as defaming them, you could end up in hot water yourself.

I would be formally writing to them with your screenshots, indicate that you see they have now amended the terms and conditions to adjust their T&Cs to their current policy (as the old T&Cs were ambiguous or inconsistent with their current policy), acknowledge that everyone has suffered due to Covid, advise that the T&Cs at the time of sale apply and these should be honoured. I would advise that if they don’t honour their T&Cs at the time of sale, you plan to take it further and you will also be seeking costs for any action taken. Be very clear, unemotional and factual in the correspondence. Also advise you expect full reimbursement and expect confirmation within 10 business days.

Hopefully this pushes them to resolve the refund with you.

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What @phb says. My advice too. Do not defame in social media.
Keep at them. At some point the business, although small, may just realise that simply giving you a refund is good value to have you just go away.

BTW have you mentioned to the business that there is an ongoing discussion about this in Choice? Topics here can show up in Google searches.

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Hi. It’s been 3 months and nothing has changed. The ACCC did not reply to me which is a shame and the store still will not issue me with a refund. I noticed last night that the store posted on social media saying that their business has been sold and is being taken over by another party. Can you please tell me where this leaves me and the store credit? Should the new owners honour my credit or does it disappear? Nothing seems fair! Thank you, thank you.

If the business was sold it suggests they may not have had the capital to issue refunds nor the cash flow to continue trading, or as happens just decided to leave the business for personal reasons.

We are unable to offer specific legal or financial advice and not knowing the circumstances of the business sale I can only refer you to the demise of Dick Smiths and the fate of the customers when it was wound up.

When a company is sold it can be sold as a going business whereby all profits, losses, and debts (such as vouchers and refunds) are part of the sale, of the sale may only be the brand name, fitout and stock, or just the trading name, with the original company having been wound up. eg the new owner does not inherit the previous owner’s liabilities unless they are in the purchase contracts.

When a company is wound up or sold without liabilities included, whatever resources remain are allocated to secured creditors (taxes, suppliers, wages) and if anything is left, to unsecured creditors (eg customers).

The situation is different for sole traders without corporate shields and a customer might be able to seek compensation from the respective trader although considering the history you posted, such effort may well result in ongoing frustration rather than obtaining a refund.

That is unfortunately common as they only seem to assist with wide ranging and egregious business behaviour. State Fair Trading Offices may respond but are generally powerless to provide more than advice or mediation and cajoling a business to do the right thing.

Businesses that want to do the right thing do; those that do not will not and some operating at the margins may not be able; the only remedy consumers usually have is taking their cases to their state CAT (QCAT) - companies know few consumers will expend the time or money to do so and are thus able to essentially ignore laws that may apply unless the consumer does follow through.

Referencing my first line all you can try is to send the (new) owner your trail of evidence and ask for them to honour the commitment; I would not be expecting a positive answer but nothing ventured. If they will honour your credit slip you may have done better than many in similar situations although there is as yet nothing on their ecommerce site to suggest a change of business practices or discontinuity of any sort.

Looking further their T&C page has (from memory) been upgraded regarding notices about refunds to be prominent and the small black bottom band on their home page stays until dismissed, evidence the shopper has seen it. It might be in response to your situation?

That is all I can add. If the business has new owners you might try to use or sell your voucher at a discount if it remains valid, or while $400 is a lot, donate it to someone doing it hard in the Goondiwindi area and put this behind you.

That’s a shame. You tried, but the full refund ship has sailed off over the horizon now.

So the decision is do you let the company keep your money for goods you bought and returned, or do you use the credit to get other goods from the company?

First, see if your credit is still valid after change of ownership. Check with them.

If still valid, then order stuff. Pay attention to the free shipping conditions. Even if what you order is not what you especially want, it could be usefull. Maybe as presents to others. Think of it as ordering and getting goods for free up to the limit of your credit.

You will have the satisfaction of knowing that the company has had to supply goods for the money you have paid, rather than keep the money for no goods supplied if you do not use the credit.

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