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Memory foam pillow purchased from chiropractor

I purchased a memory foam, contoured pillow from a chiropractor 2 months ago: it was not what I would call a cheap pillow, but for me a really good pillow is important. I had been experiencing headaches and neck strain around the time of beginning to use the new pillow however it was not immediately apparent to myself, my chiropractor or another physiotherapist that the pillow was the cause of my headaches and neck strain. The issue was confused somewhat because I do experience issues in and around that area prior to purchasing the pillow and still do have issues however nowhere as acute and painful as when I was using the pillow. Eventually I figured it out, stopped using the pillow, went back to using my old pillow (for now) and immediately had a positive response and far less pain. When discussing this with my chiropractor they seemed to be in agreement that the pillow was the culprit for the extra painful headache and neck issues. When I asked what should happen with the pillow I was told I could not return it however I insisted I was not happy with having an expensive pillow which I could not use. The chiropractor did relent and is sourcing a replacement pillow which can be adjusted to suit different height and I am confident that this will solve my problem. The chiropractor indicated that they would be unable to return the pillow and would have to “throw it in the bin”, so I might as well keep the pillow and they would organise the replacement free of charge.

I have two questions:

  1. Is it right that I should be able to return the pillow for an exchange or a refund?
  2. Is it right that the chiropractor would be unable to return the pillow to their supplier?
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Welcome to the Community.

You can ask for a refund, repair or replacement under ACL (Australian Consumer Law) if a product does not do what it was sold to you to do eg this pillow will cure your headaches when it doesn’t.

Whether the claims were made of course is only known to you and your Chiropractor, general claims made on labels are generally easier to prove, but anyway your Chiro appears to have accepted that the claims made about the pillow being suitable for you were not valid.

Not being able to return the item to the supplier is probably true as it would be difficult for such a personal use product to be properly cleaned and made “new” especially with the COVID-19 requirements. I mean they could probably return it but it would just likely be disposed of after that return.

Change of mind purchases are not refundable under ACL. But this does not appear to be the issue.

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Hi @Resonate, welcome to the community and thanks for your post.

A couple of questions…

  1. Did you purchase this on recommendation of the chiropractor?

  2. If yes, why was it recommended?

OR, if no to Q1…

  1. Did you see it when you were at the chiropractor practice/shop/reception and then decided to buy it as you needed a new pillow?

  2. Did the pillow have any claims on its packaging in relation to say ‘reduces headaches’, ‘neck pain’, back pain etc?

  3. Did anyone make any claims (eg. verbally) when making the purchase?

The answer will allow us to better determine your rights under the consumer law.

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Hi @Resonate

I see three seperate issues here.

Firstly, have you had the cause of your head & neck pains diagnosed by medical practitioners? It sounds like you would need to have visits to your GP & xrays/scans etc to work out what the root cause(s) of you problems are?

Only once the diagnosis is sorted out should you look at things to help alleviate or prevent the pain. This includes drugs and other devices such as pillows, mattresses, exercise etc.

The second issue is about your chiropractor selling products. I can see a potential conflict of interest here. The chiropractor will most likely advise you to buy products that they stock. There is a clear conflict between them making a sale, and providing you with the best products for your particular needs. It would be exceptional for them to tell you someone else’s product is more suited to your needs.

The third issue about consumer law is already being addressed by @grahroll & @phb.

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@phb in regards to your questions it may be difficult to answer accurately. I initiated the purchase of this pillow as my old pillow was getting old (over 3 years); however I have purchased the last 3 sets of pillows from the same chiropractor as I have been regularly going to see this chiropractor for over 15 years: I haven’t suffered any major injuries, I just like keeping everything in alignment. I cannot recall how I came around to the decision to buy my first memory foam pillow from this chiropractor but the pillow I did get originally was great and in the past I insisted on getting the same brand and model when I had it replaced. This time around the chiropractor did not have the same pillow in stock so I thought why not try something different. There was a physiotherapist present when the pillow was sized up (was asked to lie on the pillow and asked how it felt) but I don’t know that anything was promised or said at the time of purchase this time around. I don’t have the original packaging now but next time I’m at the chiropractor I could check to see what’s written on it.
The reason I’m confident that the replacement pillow will be suitable is that the chiropractor has sourced the same brand and model of pillow I originally had. They have been great about going the extra distance to keep me happy although I wanted to get clarification on what my rights as a consumer buying the pillow are and also what their rights as a company buying the pillow from their supplier are.

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@meltam I mentioned that I have been experiencing issues in the same physical area but these were not as acute as the headaches and neck pain issues I began experiencing, which appear to be strongly linked to the new pillow - as soon as I stopped using the new pillow and went back to my old pillow the acute headaches and bad neck pain issues were gone. It was really noticable, so I am pretty confident the pillow was the cause. The remaining, less acute issues are a separate matter and I have been in consultation with specialists regarding this and I share all these results with my chiropractor, too.
The conflict of interest is a prickly point, but I have been a benefactor of purchasing products from this chiropractor in the past and the chiropractor has a great deal of integrity, from what I have experienced, so I personally am okay with it.

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Hi @Resonate, thanks for the additional information.

It is a difficult one as the pillow may have exacerbated a pre-existing condition or sensitivity you may have. Unless the pillow was marketed as one which reduced your pain, the purchase is like to fall into the change of mind. The change of mind being the pillow didn’t suit your needs. A bit like buying a sofa and later finding out it is too hard and inflames ones back pain.

Being a change of mind, this sit outside the Australian Consumer Law and it is up to the retailer (chiropractor in this case) to determine how they approach change of minds.

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I have one of those pillows - brilliant for supporting my legs or back when sitting, absolutely useless for the head in bed!

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