No refunds signs are illegal

You’ve probably noticed a “No Refunds” at the store at some point, but in what scenarios are they legal? When is a refund allowed, and when can the store turn you away?

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If in a Store and it just says “No Refunds” that is not legal. If it is a sign that says “No Refunds for a change of mind” or a similar phrase for some change in your preference that is a legal option but doesn’t mean you can’t ask for one.

Consumer guarantees for eg refunds, replace or repair do not apply if you:

  • got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase or had no use for it
  • misused a product in any way that caused the problem
  • knew of or were made aware of the faults before you bought the product
  • asked for a service to be done in a certain way against the advice of the business or were unclear about what you wanted

Rights to a repair, replacement, refund, cancellation or compensation do not apply to items:

  • worth more than $40 000 purely for business use, such as machinery or farming equipment
  • you plan to on-sell or change so that you can re-supply as a business
  • bought as a one-off from a private seller, for example at a garage sale or fete (but you do have rights to full title, undisturbed possession and no unknown debts or extra charges)
  • bought at auction where the auctioneer acted as an agent for the owner (but you do have rights to full title, undisturbed possession and no unknown debts or extra charges).

Refunds are covered under the ACL and that has been discussed many times on this site. You can ask for a repair, replacement, or refund (this is your choice not the business’s) if the problem with the product is major.

A product or good has a major problem when:

  • it has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it (Takata Airbags perhaps as an example)
  • it is significantly different from the sample or description (eg you ordered a brown seat and instead got a green one)
  • it is substantially unfit for its common purpose and can’t easily be fixed within a reasonable time (eg a tilt chair that doesn’t tilt)
  • it doesn’t do what you asked for and can’t easily be fixed within a reasonable time; or
  • it is unsafe (eg a circular saw where the blade flies off in operation)

A service has a major problem when:

  • it has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it
  • it is substantially unfit for its common purpose and can’t easily be fixed within a reasonable time
  • it does not meet the specific purpose you asked for and cannot easily be fixed within a reasonable time
  • it creates an unsafe situation.

In the case of a service you can instead of a refund ask for compensation for the drop in value from what was paid.

You can also ask for a refund if the problem is minor if the business fails to give you a free repair within a reasonable time or cannot fix your problem.


Couldn’t have said it better myself:


I am clearly a bit slow in answering this, especially when compared to that teacher’s pet @grahroll.

To briefly change the subject, @BrendanMays, did you get the apple I sent? Royal Gala are your fave, right? No problem, it just happened to be around the place and I thought “I reckon Brendan likes apples”. Let me know if you prefer oranges. (I do hope it gets to you; I addressed it to Brendan in Sydney, so the postal guys should know where to take it.)

On a more serious note, are the signs illegal, or is the policy illegal? I have seen plenty of places with signs saying ‘no refunds’, but what you say and what you do are not necessarily the same. Do the Shop Police barge in, point to the sign and say “'allo 'allo, wha’s all dis then?”, or do they wait until you have bought something, found it defective and been unable to return it for a replacement or refund?

Are ‘no refund’ signs lawful at a bake sale, after you have found half a worm in your toffee apple?

I did read something on the ACCC website that Australian Consumer Law applies to anyone seeking to sell products in Australia, and so pushed that line with a Chinese Ebay seller whose electronics were not working. From this experience, I found that:

  1. English comprehension skills can diminish considerably in a matter of days; and
  2. Sometimes, it is worthwhile to follow the instructions.

So from my perspective, Australian Consumer Law worked fine internationally. (In fact, the seller was extremely kind and helpful, and provided me with the guidance I needed as well as reassurance that they would ‘sort it out’.)


Ok sorry if I’m the teachers pet :slight_smile:

From what I have read the signs themselves are illegal as well as the action of not refunding when clearly under ACL it is required.


How does ACL (not the ligament, the law) apply when my neighbour gets services that result in trespass onto my property and leaving garbage in my gutters?


Shout out to Trybooking for this oneCapture


Thanks for highlighting this @Peterchu. If anyone has an experience with Trybooking that results in a breach of the law, I sure hope they challenge the matter via the appropriate channels.


What about when buying online for example i was looking and they said third party supplier will not accept a refund that is clearly wrong especially if footwear doesn’t fit because other stores around allow return as normal. I would say it needs to be changed to allo exchange or refund

It’s important to assess whether ‘Trybooking’ is simply acting as an agent. Note that they point out exchange or refund is up to the ‘Event Organiser’.

While our first hand knowledge is now a little dated, the moneys received by the booking agent for events, performances or similar are subject to a contract/agreement with the booking agents and any venue/service provider.

Is the key observation here whether Trybooking can remove itself from facilitating refunds or exchanges? That assumes the Event Organiser allows for same. It’s odd that Trybooking are directing customers to deal directly with the Organiser. Note- On exchange of the booking/ticket for payment the major portion of the moneys received by the booking agent are effectively in Trust for the Organiser/Promoter. It’s not the booking agents money to refund.

The ACCC has provided advice on how Travel Agents should respond to similar situations. The assumption is booking agents for events need to meet the same expectations, where events cannot proceed or attendance is prevented due to Covid restrictions. Many event organisers and promoters may have no means of dealing directly with ticket purchasers. I’d avoid Trybooking if there is a risk of not being able to exchange or refund. It’s equally important to determine the policy of the Event Organiser/Promoter.

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It depends why the shoe didn’t fit. If the purchaser bought a shoe say for someone else or accidentally bought the wrong size for themselves, then this would be classed as a change in mind under the Australian Consumer Law. Refunds therefore don’t automatically apply and they fall back to the terms and conditions associated with the sale.

If one bought their usual show size (say size 10) and the shoe didn’t fit (was far too big or small) when any other size 10 fit, then this is likely to be a fault with the shoe sizing. In such case, the provisions of the ACL apply. Whether it is a major or minor fault under the ACL affects whether a refund can be sought. If it is a minor fault, then refunds don’t need to be offered as a resolution by the seller.

Also one must remember that it is easy to buy products from overseas online websites which not necessary set up to trade within Australia. In such case, they might be posting the refund information applicable to the jurisdiction where the business operates - and this could be very different to the rights which exist under the ACL.

The ACCC also has some information about buying online which is also pertinent to the discussion:

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A footnote, as with clothing sizes footwear sizes are not as predictable as they used to be. I variously wear 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, and 47 footwear, brand, and style and last dependent.

I personally would never agree to accept ‘it does not fit’ is a change of mind unless the seller had an accurate size chart, and for footwear even then multiple shoes of the same size that technically fit might not each be wearable by any particular individual. Arch, width, toe style, etc.

If it doesn’t fit and is unworn save for trying it on, avoid the noise and ask for the refund. If the seller refuses send a formal ‘letter of complaint’ and see how it goes. Lastly, make it as widely known as possible because the seller should not be in the business of selling clothing/footwear online from my perspective since it is a dog’s breakfast as to what any labelled size actually means any more.


I agree i have a horrible time getting the right fit. I purchased shoes online so tight fitting the retailer has allowed me to return them no hassle in regards to this product. I cannot understand how they make the footwear anymore some brands fit easy others ate dreadful and

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I took my one month old Mac Air laptop in for repair, the ‘agreement’ I had to sign specificied I would be responsible for the cost of any software repair. If not illegal, it is not moral.

Fortunately it turned out to be a malfunctioning charge cable, but it is the 5th genuine cable I have bought in 6 years for 2 laptops and the first I have been able to get a replacement for. A product not up to required standard.


I seen one just now looking online it says no refunds for change of mind. Says they use a third party provider is this allowed. How can it be any different to returning if doesn’t fit or want exchange.

Some more details of which retailer, online web page etc might be useful. If only to advise others. Change of Mind is a common exclusion. Australian Consumer Law would agree. For clothing etc that has a fit requirement, it pays to read the sellers T&C’s carefully before deciding on a purchase.

Some allow a store credit for a change of size. Conditions may apply. Others advise the customer to choose carefully as refunds are not provided if the size chosen is not a fit to your liking.

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The ACL makes it clear that suppliers of goods or services have no requirement to offer refunds or replacement for ‘change of mind’.

So, they are perfectly entitled to make that clear to you.

They cannot, however, state ‘no refunds’.

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Mosaic brand mention rivers specifically. If one looks at returns policy.

Their policy is


All Sale items are non-refundable for change of mind, instore or online. Sale items are identified on the product page and your invoice with the statement “All Sale items are non-refundable for change of mind, instore or online”. Our normal refunds policy applies to any full price styles purchased in the same transaction as Sale styles. Faulty goods are excluded from this policy. If you discover a fault with a Sale style, please follow the returns policy.


The change of mind policy is subject to the following conditions:

  • The item(s) must be in original condition and packaging: unworn, unwashed and all tags attached.
  • This excludes Final Sale Items and Third Party Seller Items. No refund, exchange or gift card will be provided, online or in store, for change of mind on all > * Final Sale Items or Third Party Seller Items.
    Items must be returned, either in store or online, with proof of purchase. For hygiene reasons, we are unable to exchange or refund earrings, underwear or swimwear.
  • Returns must be received by us within 30 days of purchase, either in store or by Rivers Warehouse.
  • Return shipping method and associated costs are the responsibility of the customer.
  • Return delivery costs for faulty or incorrectly supplied items will be the responsibility of Rivers
  • This policy does not affect your rights under the Australian Consumer Law, including consumer guarantees.

Which is perfectly okay. It isn’t inconsistent with the Australian Consumer Law and are entitled to nominate their own policy in relation to change of minds.

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If this is the policy it offers numerous return options including 30 day change of mind.

Mosaic brands come in for regular criticism and honest complaint. Which exact section and wording would one suggest is not compliant with Australian Consumer Law?

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