Obstructive behaviour - "come to your nearest store"

Hey all. Longtime choice subscriber and new forum member here to start a conversation.

I’m no stranger to exercising my rights as a consumer especially when it comes to refund/return when a product is faulty.
I’ve been finding that now we all shop online a bit more, retailers are getting pretty bold when it comes to palming off your requests by telling you to bring a faulty item to the nearest store.
I have to guess they assume I’m a keyboard warrior who won’t be as assertive in person and it’ll be easier to convince me out of the refund - they do try! Of course they don’t like giving refunds, but they’re required to.

I’m finding, though, that even when I’ve bought an item online I’m still required to take time off of work to drive for over an hour just to talk to someone who is probably going to eyeball it. And in other words, if I don’t have time to do so, I basically can’t exercise my rights.
In my experience, when I get there, there are usually more attempts to manipulate and dissuade me from a refund than there are to thoroughly examine the item for fault.

It kind of seems intentionally obstructive. Do you think this is fair?

If we can purchase an item online, and they can take your money for what eventually ends up being a faulty product, don’t you think you should be able to request a refund/replacement online if you can provide adequate evidence?


You can send the product back by post, the cost of returning the item is recoverable under ACL. If they still ask you to return it instore, then ask them for a paid courier service or a reply paid label to the nearest store and advise the option to return in person is not a suitable option for you. If the product is found not to have a fault covered by the ACL then they can recover the cost of any delivery service they paid for from you.

In the ACL it does state the requirement that a purchaser must pay the cost of reasonable freight, postage, or transport costs to return goods, unless the item is too heavy or large in which case the seller must arrange and pay for the return. If as I noted the product does not have an ACL covered fault then the purchaser remains responsible for the cost. If the item does have a fault covered under ACL then the reasonable cost paid by the purchaser is to be reimbursed by the seller.

Following is the advice from the ACCC


Responsibility for returning products

Consumers are responsible for returning products that can be posted or easily returned.

Businesses are responsible for paying for the shipping costs or collecting faulty products that are large, heavy or hard to remove, such as:

  • widescreen televisions
  • beds
  • installed appliances, like stoves or dishwashers
  • extension ladders stuck in an extended position.

This must be done within a reasonable time.

Return costs

If the business confirms that the product does have a problem, it must reimburse the consumer for any reasonable return costs they have already paid.

Consumers should keep receipts for postage or transport costs so that they can be repaid by the business. (my bolding)

If the business finds that the product does not have a problem, it can make the consumer pay the collection and inspection costs. To do this, the business must give the consumer a reasonable estimate of these costs before collecting the product."

So if posting, couriering, or transporting the item back to a business, if using someone else e.g., Australia Post or a Courier get proof you have sent the item and if needed insure it for the value of the goods e.g. a tracking number and copy of any receipt/receipts. If transporting yourself keep a copy of the fuel bills for the number of kilometres travelled (fill before travel and then fill after the travel and keep both receipts to show fuel only used for the trip), or (this one you may have to check with a legal expert familiar with consumer rights) show the reasonable kilometres travelled (shortest practicable route) to return the goods and use the ATO allowed cost per kilometre to calculate the reasonable cost (both there and back).


That’s a pretty good idea - I have to wonder if they’d agree to it and give me a postal address.
I’d be concerned that parting with the item without their agreement, then potentially never hearing back, would pretty much mean the end of any chance at refund/replacement.


The reason for someone eyeballing it, is there is a small number of people that misuse the trust of an online retailer, by deliberately saying a product is faulty when it isn’t… so that they can get a refund and product for ‘free’. This is fraud and stealing. Retailers unfortunately don’t know who are trustworthy customers or those which are criminals.

Some businesses now require evidence of a fault, usually someone now seeing the product and confirming it is faulty. Some require video evidence for simple faults, others won’t accept video evidence as this can be easily fabricated.

Unfortunately a few have spoilt it for all.

Another thing to check is the return policy of the retailer when buying. The ACL doesn’t require the product to be returned to the place of purchase - only to the seller. This means that a retailer/manufacturer can for example, ask for the product to be taken to the nearest service agent or send a service agent to you. Some terms and conditions I have seen require products to be returned to a specific location when bought online (this is one example). This is a reasonable request if the nearest store isn’t far away and can be practicably reached.

If taking to the nearest store is inconvenient^, the retailer will be responsible for paying for its return by post/courier when the product doesn’t meet the Australian Consumer Guarantee. If the product fault sits outside the ACL, then the consumer is responsible for paying return costs. It is also reasonable for a retailer to request a consumer pay for a products return until the nature of the fault can be determined. Where the fault sits under the ACL, the retailer is required to reimburse postage/courier costs.

^ Inconvenient is what a reasonable person would think is reasonable. For example, if one was incapacitated and physically can’t get to a store, than such requests are unreasonable. If the nearest store is within a short distance and one can readily get there, then this may not be seen as being inconvenient and a request to return to store (smaller items) would be therefore reasonable. Likewise large products which are difficult to move/transport, these are inconvenient for a consumer to take to the seller and the ACL recognises this as being inconvenient.


I would suggest that some JB HiFI terms in regards to “In the event of a major failure or minor defect and if the product is determined faulty through no fault of the customer, then the customer can request repair free of charge by an approved manufacturer’s repairer. If the goods cannot be repaired within a reasonable time frame the customer can request that JB Hi-Fi replace the product. JB Hi-Fi will then replace the product with a new or used product of the same brand that has similar features. In some circumstances, the provisions under the ACL may still provide for an automatic replacement or full refund of the original purchase price. See the blue section below for seeking a remedy under the ACL.” seems at great odds to the ACL. If a major fault JB HiFI do not get to set the terms in regards to repair, replacement, or refund as this is entirely up to the purchaser. The way they have written this seems to dissuade purchasers from their entitlement to seek a refund in the case of a major fault.

Nor do they define that they require that goods are returned in store in this document as all they indicate is that " To obtain a refund or any other remedy please visit your nearest JB Hi-Fi store or contact us." (my bolding). They even further state that “If your goods are faulty and you are entitled to a remedy under JB HI-FI’s Minimum Voluntary Warranty Policy, JB HI-FI will bear your reasonable expenses of making a claim under the Policy. This includes arranging and paying for, or reimbursing, the reasonable cost of the transport of the goods to and from your nearest store and/or to any repair agent, provided that you contact us in advance and obtain our prior approval.” and note this only applies specifically to their “Minimum Voluntary Warranty Policy” which might be considered an express warranty in addition to the ACL rights already conferred upon a purchaser.


Ah… how did you know I was talking about JB? Must have been the fact I talked about staff convincing me I don’t need a refund? :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks to you two - feeling galvanised to go pester them to stop palming me off.


Which will be take it to a JB Hifi store. If during contact it is found that taking it back to a store in inconvenient/unreasonable, then they should offer other solutions.

It appears from current contact, that JB Hifi doesn’t think it is the case. We haven’t been told why it is inconvenient from a consumer perspective, only that resolution with JB Hifi should only be done online as that is the method of purchase. Unfortunately this won’t be seen as inconvenient nor unreasonable and taking back to store is allowed under the ACL.

The ACL is about returning goods to the seller, not to the location of purchase. A seller can different return locations to the point of sale. A good example is a local seller that has an overseas manufacturer despatch a product direct to a consumer. A consumer can’t be expect the goods to be shipped back overseas, but sorted out locally.

Which is consistent with the ACL. One needs to have evidence of costs incurred if a claim is also to he made.

The ACCC states:

If faulty goods have to be returned to the place where they were bought, it is reasonable for the seller to pay appropriate freight costs.

Unless you have a strong case associated with being inconvenient or their request being unreasonable for your circumstances, they can hold firm.

Saying you don’t want the hassle of returning to a store nearby won’t stack up as arranging postage/courier will be equally, if not more onerous. Likewise trying to argue they should do it online as this is the method of purchase won’t succeed.

Good luck in seeking alternative arrangements if you think this applies to you.


They stated the drive to the store was an hour trip and take time off work to do so, this I, in my case, would consider this to be inconvenient and a costly impost on my budget.

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I don’t disagree, however, if the drive to drop a parcel off is about the same level of inconvenience and one regularly visits the town/area containing the store, then it could be reasonable in these circumstances. This is particularly the case for rural Australians. It is a situation we regularly face where we live.

Each consumers will have different circumstances and a rule of thumb can’t apply to all.


On the point about refund fraud - yep, I’ll say, admittedly, I forgot people do this :slight_smile:

I suppose I am more accustomed to people who are too conflict averse or not confident enough in requesting a refund or replacement and will go as far as to simply buy a replacement at their own cost if need be. I don’t have any experience when it comes to requests for the retailer to take responsibility for fake/fraudulent faulty stuff - seems like a lot of trouble to go to unless it was a very big ticket item.

I think you two have got most of the points covered. I appreciate your responding.

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And credit card chargeback fraud is also becoming an issue to. A number of local businesses have been hit in the order of hundreds to over a thousand. They prey on contactless transactions which are becoming the norm in several service industries.

For info, I took an item back to Bunnings. I did not have the receipt but I did have my credit card statement showing the purchase (not the item details). It was a “Bunnings Brand”. No refund or replacement without the receipt. Why not? Because some people find items at the tip or garage sales and bring them in for refund without receipts.


It is worth noting that some suppliers of goods keep a record of the details of the purchase itemising what was bought.

So a card account statement line item, whilst not showing the details of what was purchased, will have a transaction ID that could be matched to their computer records.

I wouldn’t just accept a ‘no receipt, go away’ response. Proof of purchase doesn’t rely solely on a receipt. It can be a card statement.


Under ACL legislation there are a few options to prove the purchase. Bunnings having a stance that receipt only is acceptable is at odds with the advice from the ACCC about what is acceptable.

“ Other forms of proof of purchase include a:

  • credit or debit card statement
  • lay-by agreement
  • receipt number or reference number given over the phone or internet
  • warranty card with details of the manufacturer or supplier, date and amount of purchase
  • serial or production number linked with the purchase on the supplier’s or manufacturer’s database.

The consumer may need to provide more than one of these things.

The law doesn’t give a definition of how much proof is enough – the consumer just needs to reasonably demonstrate that they bought the item.”

If needed they could look at their records to find the transaction and what goods were purchased as you are able to provide a time, date, and amount for them to search on.


The obvious problem with a proof of purchase using a card statement is the lack of what was bought. One could have bought in that transaction many things, one of which could have been the item to be returned, or none of them.
I know from experience that I cannot walk out of a Bunnings without buying more than I intended to.
But, they may have a record of the itemized purchases in the system. In effect, a copy of your receipt. Worth asking if they can look up your transaction.

A while ago, a friend bought a new TV and later interested in a soundbar. Went to JbHiFi for a look. What TV is it asked the salesperson?. Don’t know really, but it is big, and I bought it from your company.
No probs, what is your name? Tap tap on the computer and they had a complete record of the sale and model of the TV. Right down to serial number.

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Thank you for your comments. The incident was several years ago and I will not be pursuing it. That said, Bunnings is getting better. Last week I bought a Ryobi battery and charger which had a 3 year warranty. In addition to the paper receipt the sales person asked if I would like an electronic copy. Minutes later a link appeared on my mobile. It took me to a digital copy of the transaction which I can save. As Scomo would have said “how good is that”!