Outrageous - why am I responsible for returning small damaged items

Why is it up to ME to repackage, get into my van, drive to the shops, find parking, lug the parcel to the Post Office and pay postage to return an item I bought online that is DAMAGED??!? And they magnanimously offer to replace it. This drives me spare. Why are they not collecting it from me???


As the product has a fault, it is because they don’t have to. For smaller items (which can reasonably be handled by a consumer), it is the consumer who is responsible for returning it to the retailer/manufacturer. See:

If you incurred reasonable costs for returning the item (such as postage, freight etc), then you have the right to claim these back from the retailer/manufacturer. Hopefully the retailer/manufacturer has already covered these so you are not out of pocket or have had to pay these yourself only to claim it back should the product be found to have a fault.


Thank you. But I think it’s wrong and immoral. It’s not as though I damaged it!! This is a stainless steel water bottle that is scratched to pieces. I think it was the way they packaged it - a large box to accommodate an large purchase, then the other six items tossed into the box on top of each other, no packaging except a small amount of bubble wrap chucked in, not filling the box to the top, and useless even if it had, given that the articles underneath were all loose and rubbing against each other.

I am SO frustrated and incensed about this.


Can we have a more informative title for this topic?

A photo of the damaged item? v. what it should look like?

The name of the vendor if you are confident of your facts? A link to the item?


Most consumers, while somewhat inconvenient, would regularly visit the same shops or pass near a post office regularly…thus a consumer dropping it back to the retailer or at a post office wouldn’t be seen as being unreasonable. This is possibly the reason for the ACL provisions as outlined by the ACCC for small items. Larger items, a consumer would not necessarily have the strength/ability/means to safely do the same.

I have also amended your thread title to make it clearer why you have been outraged.


I would take a photo of the damaged item, and also some showing the packaging it was delivered in, and send it off via whatever comms means they have and say to them:

Well here’s the damaged item and I want a replacement. If you really want it back then send me a voucher to be used in the post office that covers both packaging and postage, and I expect the replacement sent properly packaged and sent free of charge.

That’s a good idea! I mean, I don’t know if it’s feasible but it’s worth a try. Thank you! The only thing is that I didn’t photograph the items in the box. Although I thought it was weird and sloppy, I didn’t think to photograph. I have four photos of the bottle though.


Feasible? Sure is.
It is a right under the ACL for a receiver of faulty goods to claim the costs of return to the sender. If it is a large item, then it is up to the seller to come and get it.

Really? Thank you so much. What about small items, that are not arduous to carry but still require repackaging and a trip to the post office?

Can I take you with me??? :grin:

1 Like

A small item is anything other than:

When a product is too large, too heavy or too difficult to remove

A stainless steel water bottle would be a small item. An example of a large item would be a fridge, oven, extra large screen TV etc - most items which are usually delivered to the consumer’s residence, rather than a consumer being able to take them home from the retailer in their own vehicle (such as a standard passenger car).


At the risk of further incurring your wrath, and while empathising with your annoyance at the item not arriving in its original condition, I don’t think it’s all that ‘outrageous’ to repackage and post it yourself.
Ordering online always comes with a risk: of receiving the wrong item; of buying ‘sight unseen’ and the item not being as expected; of the item being unsuitable or the wrong size; of the item arriving damaged, or not at all. These are inherent risks with the convenience of online shopping rather than visiting a bricks and mortar shop and purchasing in person, and yes, they are almost always annoying.
Some of these issues may be the fault of the vendor or the delivery service, and your vendor has acknowledged this and offered to make good. I think it is reasonable for you to repackage the damaged item, perhaps using the original packaging, including the paltry amount of bubble wrap they supplied, and post it while on another errand, then claim the cost of the postage from the vendor if they haven’t already offered to cover it. I would also ask the post office for proof of postage in case anything goes amiss with the return of the item, as has happened to me.


Wish I had known that a larger, heavy item should be picked up by the seller. I bought a standard fan from Kogan once that had a defective screw. They requested that I send the whole fan back to them for replacement. It was so heavy and bulky getting it to the post office. I was not happy.


The definition of ‘a larger heavy item’ probably does not include a fan. To wit from the ACCC page

When a product is too large, too heavy or too difficult to remove, the business is responsible for paying the shipping costs or collecting the product within a reasonable time of being notified of the problem. Examples include:

  • a wide screen TV
  • a bed
  • an extension ladder stuck in the extended position
  • a product that has been subsequently installed, like a stove or a dishwasher.

You do not have to return products in the original packaging in order to get a refund.

If the product is found not to have a problem, you may be required to pay the transport or inspection costs. An estimate of these costs should be provided to you before the product is collected, and the costs must not be inflated in an attempt to deter you from pursuing your claims.


They should have organised a pre-paid shipping label or courier, or reimbursed you for the return.


The implication of this is that a ladder that is NOT stuck extended is not considered a large item. Ahem.


Thank you, Gregr, for your assistance and information. I have a life-threatening illness that means I go out rarely. I have copied your comments, as well as other comments that have offered helpful suggestions, and will find someone to follow them up for me. Thanks again.


Hello Guitarfish, I have purchased online for well over 20 years and have purchased100’s of items. To be very honest 99% have been sound deals
When the purchase is a dud I contact the seller and explain the issue and ask what they can do to remedy the issue.
If I’m not satified with their offerings I contact my Credit provider and 100% have recieved a refund. If the seller does not arrange collection of their Goods within 3 months I am legally permitted to dump those items.
No customer is obliged to do logistical work for a Seller or business anywhere in Australia.
People are very poorly educated of their consumer rights in this land.
Hopefully that will change as vast numbers shift to this online option?
Ps, coming from Europe where Online began in the 60’s , all purchase issues were alway managed by the ‘Seller’ , never the customers.
I hope this clears up any ‘‘Legals’’ some people still are unsure about?

1 Like

I think most people would agree with you regarding most online purchases working out most of the time.
Regardless of what the law says, if I wanted a speedier resolution to a purchase that wasn’t quite right and it was the seller’s fault, as seems in the the OP, I would follow the seller’s returns/refund policy.
This generally includes contacting them to notify them, repacking the goods (in the original packaging, which I always keep until I’m satisfied that I have received the correct item/s in good order) and posting back on my next shopping trip.
There are likely only very few people unable to do this - eg. those living remotely, and those unable to get to the shops for personal reasons, and I find taking an understanding and co-operative line always works perfectly well - no seller wants a disgruntled customer likely to post negative online reviews.
I find a pleasant attitude and a little tolerance and patience goes a long way to everyone being happy at the end of the day; after all, which of us is perfect? I have insufficient free time to spend arguing points of law, but each to their own, I suppose.


It is worth reading the ACCC link above. It is inconsistent with your comment for smaller items. While it may be inconvenient or annoying, a consumer may be asked by a seller/retailer to return the goods to the place of purchase or to the nearest post office to be posted back to the seller/retailer. Where there is a product fault, reasonable costs of postage/freight can be recouped from the seller/retailer.

Some businesses may chose to exceed the minimum standard, as above, in relation to returning faulty products. This might include arranging a courier or a employee/contractor of the seller/retailer to collect the goods from one’s residence. Exceeding the minimum standard is about good customer service rather than meeting mandated consumer rights.


I wouldn’t - I shop online because I am disabled and cannot leave the home. So if something needs returning this actually becomes a really big problem for me. It is like out of stock items with my grocery delivery - like no milk this week. It is not like I can just pop off to the shops to pick some up, and delivery has a minimum order, I can’t just ask for milk. It drives me insane also that seniors card holders (anyone over 60) can get a discount on delivery from Woolworths but not disability pensioners. Literally those who cannot shop for themselves!

1 Like