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Fitbit Ionic Recall - Refund Method

I’ve been given 2 options for a refund of a recalled item.

  1. A Virtual Visa Card which I can only use to purchase goods or services online, or
  2. PayPal.
    My preferred method of doing business is to go in store and pay with my Visa Debit (or cash) if I choose to buy. In fact I have purchased 3 Fitbit watches in various stores to date over the last few years by this method. I have contacted Fitbit via Twitter who referred me to the Refund Management Centre. I have spoken to the centre who have said there is nothing they can do, those are the only 2 options available. They did suggest I might want to give the credit to a family member or friend who does use online services (as the card isn’t restricted to the individual :joy::joy:). Is this acceptable? I think a Visa Card which can be used in store is not unreasonable, many would have paid for the original goods in store via that method.
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Although paypal charges a fee you can transfer a balance to a debit card among other options.

https://www.paypal.com/au/smarthelp/article/can-i-transfer-money-to-my-debit-card-faq859

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How did you originally pay for the recalled Fitbit watch?

It would be reasonable to ask for the payment method to be used for the refund. If you bought it in store using your debit Visa card, then it could be seen as being reasonable that this should be the refund method.

If you bought it using PayPal online, then this would be a reasonable method for refund.

The reason why I say that is the ACCC states…

Refunds should be the same amount you have already paid, provided in the same form as your original payment.

Note, the key word is ‘should’ and isn’t a ‘must’. A reasonable person would expect a business to try an use a refund method suitable to a customer and not the business?

I would contact FitBit refund centre again an quote the above wording from the ACCC. While they have good reason not to follow this, they should at least let you know why refund to the payment method isn’t possible. Refund/ crediting a Visa debit card is a very simple process and unsure why they wouldn’t do this if it was the original payment method.

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It may be that the original purchase was directly with a retailer who provides multiple alternatives to receive payment. FitBit were not the seller, and are hence not bound in the same way?

Does the ACCC offer any guidance on how a product recall with refund should be handled?

Is the recall by FitBit clear evidence the product is ‘not fit for purpose’ in which instance the purchaser is legally entitled to return the product to the retailer for a full refund under ACL?

Hence is how the retailer recovers the cost from FitBit is up to the Retailer and should be independent of any unreasonable payment restriction on the customer?

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Product recalls come under the ACCC and their advice in relation to refunds apply. The Australian Consumer Law doesn’t have any special requirements for product recalls, therefore general provisions for refunds for faulty products apply.

The quote in the earlier post applies, and applies to the manufacturer and retailer/seller. The ACCC (ACL) doesn’t provide different requirements for a manufacturer and retailer/seller.

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Hence, would it be OK to return the product to the retailer and not deal with the FitBit recall centre?

It would seem more expedient for many purchasers who may walk past the very retailer often enough to not be inconvenienced.

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No, one needs to look at the recall notice and what is the agreed process to achieve a refund. The voluntary recall notice for the watch in question requests watch owners to contact FitBit for a refund. Some other product recall notices allow refunds through the retailer and/or manufacturer or distributor.

The FitBit watch has a major fault where it can overheat potentially causing burns. The provisions under the ACL for product recalls and refunds apply, as outlined in previous posts.

It is also worth contacting the store one bought the watch from, as some retailers may have arrangements in place with FitBit, for those watches sold through their stores. JB Hi-fi is an example of a retailer that will process refunds for FitBit for the watches. Hopefully the FitBit call centre will be able to advise what retailers this option exists, and whether this is an option for the consumer based on where they made the original purchase.

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The ACCC provides the following guidelines.

In respect of the supplier

While it’s a guideline, ‘suppliers should ensure they minimise the inconvenience to consumers’ hopefully assures purchasers encounter no difficulties in getting a satisfactory outcome with minimal effort.

According to the agreed recall notice, FitBit are offering a limited time additional credit towards other FitBit products as an added incentive.

It would be consistent with the guideline if,

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That’s correct, and why I stated above for @BevT1 to go back to FitBit requesting a refund to the original payment method. This is consistent with information in the ACL and ACCC as also outlined in earlier post. This is the most convenient method of refund to @BevT1, if this was the Visa debit card used for the original purchase of the recalled watch.

The original question was whether the advice and refund methods proposed by Fitbit in discussions was acceptable. I have addressed this thoroughly in earlier posts.

Edit: If you are trying to argue that the FitBit process to issue a refund isn’t convenient. This isn’t the case. As FitBit is a product not widely available, to return it to the place of purchase would be inconvenient for most consumers - most suburban shopping centres would not have retailers which sell FitBits. As a result, to return to the place of purchase it would require a special journey to the retailer, which would take considerable time (and cost to the consumer). FitBit indicated one can call them or lodge a refund request online. This will be far more convenient for consumers, with exception of those who don’t have a phone nor internet access. Consumers without phones and internet access, if they exist, would be a extremely small minority. Their recall notice and process to seek a refund couldn’t be more convenient and would easily meet the requirements of the ACCC/ACL.

Individuals might have their own preference to how they think a refund should be processed, but a business needs to consider what is the most convenient for their consumers as a whole. Sitting in one’s living room making a 5-10 minute call/online form is better than potentially spending significantly more time driving to a store then arguing with retail staff one is entitled to a refund for the recalled product. It isn’t rocket science what is more convenient. FitBit has also accepted a less convenient process and appears to have agreements in place with some retailers (see earlier post) to process refunds through their stores. If this less convenient refund process is preferred by customers who purchased through these stores.

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I cannot see anything in the Australian recall notice that indicates it is ‘voluntary’. That said JB HiFi states that it is a voluntary recall] initiated by Fitbit. This raises the obvious question: what is a voluntary recall?

Turns out I was silly enough to dive down the rabbit-hole. The ACCC publishes guidance (not legally binding) on how suppliers should deal with product recalls. This guidance in turn directs the reader to the legal requirements specified in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (also known as Australian Consumer Law or ACL). It states the the responsible Commonwealth Minister may initiate a compulsory recall in order to protect the public.

Subdivision A of Division 3 of part 3-3 of chapter 3 of Volume 3 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 specifies the requirements for a compulsory recall of consumer goods. One of the key requirements here appears to be that “it appears to the responsible Minister that one or more suppliers of such goods have not taken satisfactory action to prevent those goods causing injury to any person”.

Subdivision B Division 3 of part 3-3 of chapter 3 of Volume 3 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 specifies the requirements for a voluntary recall of consumer goods. This appears to simply be a recall initiated by the supplier that is either not referred to the relevant Minister or that the Minister decides does not need to be mandated.

Based on the ACCC website, it appears that the only current compulsory recall is for Takata airbags.

Just to keep everyone interested, the ACCC refers the reader to a separate list of recalls for all sorts of vehicles and their components. This is maintained by the Department of (as at 08/04/2022 - this name will undoubtedly change in the future) Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication.

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Convenience is in the opinion of the customer, or are we the arbiters of convenience? It’s a rhetorical question.

As the OP has already indicated.

IE FitBit will not refund using the same method of payment as the customer’s original purchase.

If it was my purchase in question, neither option (a virtual Visa card, or refund to PayPal which I do not have an account with) would be acceptable.

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Thank you for your contributions to my dilemma. I do have the original receipt, I paid in cash and I am going in to JB Hi-fi today to see if they will process a refund. If that fails I will contact the Refund Management Centre again next week and ask to speak to a Manager (as advised by Fitbit via Twitter conversation). If that fails I suppose I’ll just have to accept one of the methods offered, however, if that’s the case I will never buy a Fitbit product again. Thanks again.

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Thanks for the info re Paypal. I do have the original receipt, I paid in cash and I am going in to JB Hi-fi today to see if they will process a refund. If that fails I will contact the Refund Management Centre again next week and ask to speak to a Manager (as advised by Fitbit via Twitter conversation). If that fails I suppose I’ll just have to accept one of the methods offered, however, if that’s the case I will never buy a Fitbit product again. Thanks again.

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Preference isn’t convenience. Preference is a choice of a consumer, convenience is something which minimises impact or disruption - they aren’t the same thing nor be confused.

A consumer may chose a less convenient option for some reason, such as they like face to face contact when dealing with an issue rather than trying to understand someone with a strong accent in a noisy call centre. I have a family member which has this preference and has spent hours resolving issues by driving half way across a city for face to face contact which could could have been resolved by a simple phone call. :thinking:

This is the crux of the issue and the original question. As outlined earlier, it has been addressed.

It appears that JB Hi-fi will only refund to customers which bought the FitBit through their stores. If you did your original purchase through JB Hi-fi, it might be the easiest way for you to achieve the refund to the method you would like, that being to your debit card. Note that JB Hi-fi could offer you cash refund, since this is your original payment method. It is likely they they will agree to debit card refund as well if asked - as they like contactless (viz. cashless) transactions.

Just been into JB Hi-fi. Presented them with the watch & original receipt, they immediately processed a refund without question & didn’t hesitate to refund cash (the original method of payment). Again, sincere thanks to all who contributed.

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That’s great to hear. It’s disappointing FitBit did not provide that advice when you contacted them.

Incidentally far less painful than what we went through to get our Charge 3 replaced through the retailer when it failed before the end of it’s warranty. The brand new replacement also failed a year later with a rapid battery discharge and lock up behaviour that resisted all remedies from the web. Add to that the failure of the wrist bands on 2 occasions despite pedestrian type use. It was not a very serviceable product.

Whether Google can turn that around or will simply absorb the IP and move on with it’s own branding is of curiosity value only. We replaced the Fitbit with a Garmin which had been trouble free for 6 months. :crossed_fingers:

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Yes, after this experience I when my current Fitbit Charge 4 expires I won’t be replacing it with any other Fitbit product. I’m a great believer in walking once bitten :joy:

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