Free gift but also not?

I bought a product online from an Aussie business.

I surprisingly I received a “free gift” with the item, but the ordered product didn’t fit.

In preparations to order a replacement item I found that the return policy stated that I had to return the original item AND the free gift at my own expense.

I find it unacceptable that they would charge me for the free gift and it reflects poorly on their business and customer service. Had I agreed to the receipt of the free item I might feel differently.

I’m considering returning everything and requesting a full refund based on principle alone. I feel duped.

Can they actually charge me for the free gift?


Gifts are offers made and attached to a purchase. It is reasonable for the business to request the return of the gift if one is seeking a refund or a different product associated with say a change in mind.

If it isn’t returned, the buyer hasn’t met the terms and conditions associated with the offer and can be asked to pay for it.

It is also worth noting that if it wasn’t returned, unfortunately this would become known and some within the community would take advantage of the goodwill of the company buy ordering something, only to return it shortly thereafter so that they can keep the free gift. A good way for a business to go out of business.


Source please?

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This is what the ACCC says:

Gifts are subject to special conditions. If one accepts the gift, they accept these terms and conditions. You have indicated that the business in question is clear in what the offer entails and limitations associated with the offer. A limitation being that the gift must be paid for should the item be returned.


I do not agree it is clear. If a purchase is made that includes a free gift, OK. The ACCC advice is clear. OTOH if a purchase is made and unexpectedly comes with a ‘free gift’ that was neither expected nor explicitly part of the transaction I would reasonably consider it was akin to an unsolicited bit of unordered merchandise, ie an unencumbered gift.

Perhaps the ‘free gift’ was (or was not) addressed in the order docs?


It appears to be clear as their T&Cs/return policy outlined requirements for the ‘free’ gift. The free gift offer is likely to be an oversight during the purchase process… such as a banner indicating every purchase gets a free gift on the website homepage - this is common marketing practice and can be easily missed.

I look at it like a offer which says, ‘buy one get one free’. Such offers are very common. One might one want one and not a second ‘free’ one, but the offer is accepted as part of the purchase. One can’t return one, get a refund and expect to get the second one for nothing.

The only odd thing is they ask for the ‘gift’ to be returned with the original purchase, when a replacement is requested. It seems to suggest it might have been a temporal offer, which had expired when the replacement was requested… but, a purchase should be dated the time of the original purchase and thus the ‘gift’ offer still honoured. Possibly the replacement comes with a new gift?


You could be correct but the return policy is after the fact and should need to be made clear it applies to a ‘surprise gift with conditions applied’. That is not a 2 for 1 if it is delivered as a so-called ‘free gift’ that was not overlooked, not misconstrued, not part of the purchase, yet sent. My view is that under the circumstance I consider possible it is akin to unfair trading. There are many ways it could be overlooked during an order but we do not know more than was posted. If it was missed up front, I fully agree it is what it is and should be returned per change of mind policy.


I think this one is hard to answer definitively because

It appears from these statements this was an unexpected gift i.e. not solicited nor expected as part of the purchase.

I am unaware that any business name was provided, so it is hard to determine what terms and conditions are set by this business or even if it is part of a purchase deal in regards to receiving the free gift in the first place and only that it must be returned at the expense of the purchaser as noted by @MakingEndsMeet as found in their returns policy.

Providing the name of the business may help to determine if this was an “unexpected” gift. Could it be that providing the gift is a means to discourage returns or offset the some of the profit lost when items are returned without the gift (when the gift is subsequently paid for rather than return it)?. It could cost more than what might otherwise be a fairly modest cost of return depending on what the free gift is…

Anyway, if the gift was part of the “package” when buying an item then it must be returned to meet the conditions. If it was an “unexpected” gift and was not an expected inclusion then it is an unsolicited item. To know more, it is again helpful to know who the business in question is.


I cannot see how you are being ‘charged’ for a free gift.

If you mean that returning the gift will add to the cost incurred in returning the item you acually bought then what was it? A big item that would increase the cost?

Or do you mean you should just keep it as it was free?

Unfortunately, yours seems to be a change of mind return, and you are at the mercy of the returns policy. In the T&Cs. Take it or leave it.

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If I may be allowed to think aloud a few questions come to mind:

I’ve noticed lately that many retailers offer ‘buy one get one free’ and their T&C state that both items should be returned in case of any claim.
Some purchases might come with a ‘free gift’ (of course it is superfluous to call a gift ‘free’ as a gift means getting something without paying for it) and it might seem that being a ‘gift’ we could keep it. But… is it not actually a ‘conditional’ gift, a gift given only after having made a purchase and subjected to the same T&C as the purchase?

It seems to me that @MakingEndsMeet issue is ‘not being aware’ there was a gift and therefore he feels it’s unfair to ask him to return the gift at his own expense.
Getting in touch with the Business and explaining how things happened might be the best way to a satisfactory resolution? Is it possible to prove it wasn’t on the website? Is it still not advertised? Would it have made a difference if the ‘gift’ offer had been made clear?
(Just out of curiosity what type of gift are we talking about, of what value compared to the purchase?)

My experience: after cancelling an order for window furnishings I posted back a gift the salesman had given me for placing the order. It didn’t feel right to keep it even though I had not asked for it but i knew it had been given to me because of the sale expectation.


That would be right.

Doing a quick google search, there are a number of online retailers which offer gifts in addition to the purchase. Each one of these which came up in the search make it clear that should the product be returned, the gift must also be returned. I didn’t find any which didn’t indicate it was the case.

Unfortunately not being unaware isn’t grounds for refusing to return the ‘gift’ . One needs to look at the T&Cs as part of the purchase which will state how the gift is to be managed, in the event of a change of mind/returned product.

Businesses are unlikely to allow customers to keep gifts, then they have change of mind or return policies. If they did, and as outlined above, they won’t be in business long.


Could it be that the replacement item would automatically include a gift?
That could be the main reason of asking for original item + gift to be sent back.
I think it would be wise to get in touch with the business to sort things out, asking if the gift could be kept and the replacement item only be sent?


Serendipitously I received a ‘free gift’ with an order yesterday. It was ‘out of the blue’ and had a card to ‘enjoy it’ with no obligation attached. If I decided to return the associated order regardless of whether the ‘free gift’ might be referenced in their T&C, like @MakingEndsMeet I would be put out if they demanded I return ‘the gift’ with the associated order as a condition of the the return - but read further.

Even if the card included ‘conditions’ it would be be, to me, unacceptable because it could be an impost at best as well as potentially a disincentive to return a product whether it was the wrong size, was an exchange, or found to be unacceptable and being within the change of mind policy. It is not about rights and law as about good business practices from the consumer view.

What is not posted is whether contact was made with the company to have a discussion. As with email text and forum posts what is written does not always reflect intentions or nuances.

‘Changes of mind’ commonly require the customer to ship back at their own expense.

What is missing from the topic is whether there was contact with the company. @MakingEndsMeet, would you fill that in please, and if contact was made did they reaffirm you needed to send the product and ‘gift’ back, especially noting your post reads like you wanted an exchange not a refund in the first instance, and is that accurate?

All our conjecture will be secondary to how the company responds to a query.


It’s interesting that such a powerful marketing tool as a ‘gift with purchase’ would not be disclosed at the ‘point of sale’.


Another interesting read about ACCC guidelines.


Noted in that read:

The ACCC issued a Media Release on 10 January 2024 to warn that conditions attaching to free gifts must be prominent when free gifts are offered.

There are further points raised that suggest simply including additional conditions in fine print is not good enough to pass the ACCC’s expectations.

Without some further related details of the supplier, and product purchased -


Thank you, and everyone for their thought provoking replies.
First, I would like to correct myself. I’ve returned to the website and have found that there is now an advert on their main page, “Free gift with the purchase of over $200” I don’t recall seeing that when I order but admittedly I knew what I was looking for and I wanted to get what I wanted and leave.

To answer your question, no I have not yet contacted the company. I’ll be doing that tomorrow after I’ve throughly reviewed their terms and conditions, return policies and anything else I might find relevant today.

I haven’t changed my mind on the item I purchased. I very much want the item I ordered. I ordered actually a size larger than they suggested based on factual measurements but the item was still too small. So regardless of the facts the instructions were incorrect which is incredibly disappointing for me. I followed instruction, ered on the side of caution and still didn’t get what I hoped for.

I’ll let you know how they respond.

Thanks again.

PS their terms and conditions are not on their website via desktop but they are via phone. Very odd.