CHOICE membership

Refunds - change of mind - supermarkets

These days the idiom that the “Customer is always right” has largely disappeared due to changes in both corporate and people’s behaviour. “I opened the cream two weeks ago and today it didn’t taste right so I want to replace it as I am not happy with it”, regardless of the statement on the side of the goods 'if you’re not 100% happy with your purchase we’ll refund or exchange’ would I be happy to replace it if I were the business? I would suggest not. It will be interesting to see how the ACCC responds to the query and if they make a decision. Perhaps Woolworths will need to add disclaimers to their products to explain when and where the refund or placement is given.

The Woolworth’s refund policy:

Discover - Woolworths Online

They do have [other] policies for non-Woolworths branded products.

The ‘game in play’ is about making customers comfortable with trying and buying their house branded goods. Many would not if it was at a risk. The store cannot then pick and chose what and if that ‘global policy’ applies to when it is on the labels.


It appears to be the case where specifics of the ‘if you not 100% happy with your purchase, we’ll replace or refund’ as to be read in conjunction with the Woolworths policy, which includes

  • is in its original condition, including with packaging; and
  • has not been used and, if a perishable product, is not expired or within 2 days of expiry

Taking back an opened and partly used cottage cheese container doesn’t meet this requirement. Woolworths can set this requirement for products one doesn’t like - noting if the batch of cottage cheese was ‘off’, they would have similar complaints from other customers. If they included all the clarifying wording, the container would need a significant redesign to fit all the words…or the word’s font would be so small it would be illegible.

Some cottage cheese also has a stronger maturation flavour, which could be easily mistaken for being off (we personally prefer the stronger flavoured cottage cheeses otherwise it would be like a ricotta).

Some like Gorgonzola and it’s funky aroma (I do), but others think the cheese has a strong ‘off’ scent. Likewise with cottage cheeses, they range in tastes like any cheese if the same category.

Personal taste falls into a change of mind, which Woolworths can set the policy.

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That has never been my experience. They have refunded and replaced partly and even fully empty containers accompanied by photos of the contents.

We have also had both Woolies and Coles refund their store branded products that we just did not like, and without drama.


@philT The online chat may have been useful for you in the past. I assume you chatted to a person. When I tried the online chat it was clear that I was interacting with OLIVE a chat-bot who could only reply to the most general of queries.

@Gregr to clarify, I decided not to wait while a staff member looked up a number in her directory to call and seek advice. She did not suggest she would ask her manager (maybe he was not at work at the time). But the kicker was that she would (a) look up a number; (b) call and (c) ask to be put to the appropriate person for advice.
All the while my car was parked at a meter, into which I deposited $2 for what I expected to be a short in-and-out experience at the store.

@phb your comment that It appears to be the case where specifics of the ‘if you not 100% happy with your purchase, we’ll replace or refund’ as to be read in conjunction with the Woolworths policy, which includes

  • is in its original condition, including with packaging; and*
  • has not been used and, if a perishable product, is not expired or within 2 days of expiry*

does not wash with me. There is absolutely no indication on the packaging that this promise is to be read in conjunction with any other policy. It is a straight forward promise to a customer. If Woolies wants to limit its promise it should make that apparant on its packaging.

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When you get the bot you need to enter ‘agent’ or similar and it will pass you to one.

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In the past I have seen information posted in store in relation to the 100% satisfaction guarantee. Next time I am at Woollies I will see if it is still posted and available for consumers to read.

While it may not apply in this case, as a general rule/advice and as outlined above, how a consumer approaches a business when there is a issue can drive the response by the business to the issue at hand. Likewise, if a issue is seen to be trivial, frivolous or vexatious, this can also drive the response from a business. The same applies to what are called serial complainants or those who are well known to the business for some reason. It is also important to be professional, objective and clear in relation to the issue.

@philT thanks for the tip!
@phb You query how a customer approaches a business. Well I was neatly dressed, well spoken, calm, had the product with me and the receipt. It was 2 days since I purchased it and weeks within the use by date.

I suspect the issue I encountered is poor training of staff or no training whatsoever. At other Woolworths I may not have received what I sought in some cases, for instance when I over bought chocolates, but received a credit towards a latter purchase when I sought to return some boxes… So that was OK, given what folk in here have told me regarding change of mind returns (ie that the business can exchange and not refund, far enough).

But in this recent case, the first person I approached in the store understood my issue, inspected the product and was happy with me exchanging for that or a similar product. However when I returned to the customer service desk, that woman vanished and her replacement acted like a drone on autopilot, unable or unwilling to follow her colleague’s agreement to me swapping the item. All she did was repeat “that nothing can be done as the item has been opened”.

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FWIW I completed an online form after not having the success using the chat bot.

It’s coming up to a week since I completed that online form and so far head nada from the erroneously called “fresh food people”.

You were unable to get the bot to pass you onto an agent?

Didn’t you get one noting they are not available 24x7 but during business hours this has always worked for me.

Interesting (?) experience at the “Fresh Food People” yesterday. Went thru the self checkout-a pear wouldn’t scan-not by the barcode stuck to it, not by the weight. Young assistant tried-no go, so called older assistant over. Woman was at least my age. She had a go-still wouldn’t work. So while she’s faffing with it, she manages to drop it-and it bounces 3 times-down the self checkout, and bang-onto the floor. So she picks it up and says “well, it’s for free now” and puts it to the side of the register. Love, I don’t want a bruised pear. I could’ve picked a bruised pear out of the pile if I wanted one. So when I put my last couple of things thru, I asked her if someone could go and get me another pear. She says well if you replace it, it won’t be for free. I said, “I’m making a fruit salad-I don’t want a bruised pear.” So she picks up bouncy pear and has a good inspection looking for damage. What the??? And finally sends the young girl over to get another one…so apparently, if I wasn’t going to take the one she damaged for free, there was something wrong with me for wanting to pay for another one…

Trying to use the online chat, I got diddly squat.
i read your suggestion on agent after I had already filed my details via their “feedback” form which came with countless questions including asking if I agree to be contacted by the supplier of the product in question etc, I decided not to confuse the issue by returning to the chat function and seeking an agent.
Let’s see when or if Woolworths reverts after they read my complaint.

It’s 2 weeks since I lodged an online complaint and the boys and girls at the poorly named “Fresh Food People” are yet to reply.
So I decided to chase the matter up.

I took your suggestion of typing “agent” when in the chat space and I was, it was claimed, passed to an agent to discuss the matter. But to no avail. The system timed me out.

As the website states that the site is manned until 8pm, I conclude either they are drowning in a sea of unhappy customers or they clocked off early for the long weekend.

So how does one respond when the ‘fresh’ pineapple cut the next day at home is found to have a black heart?

There are many products which need to be opened and or tasted to deliver the 100% happy with your purchase outcome.

Is Woolworths failing with poor over the counter customer experience?
Is the ‘if you are not 100% happy ….’ Statement not a promise, and simply marketing hype - puffery?

Woolworths is a big company. It has no excuse for not delivering on it’s promises. Consumers have come to expect some businesses to use fine print and ‘subject to T&C’s’ arguments to fend off customer claims.

Each example needs to be judged on it’s merits. If there are exclusions to note, such as opened food products, Woolies are capable of putting that disclaimer on the printed label with equal prominence, and on the shelf labels in plain English.

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I agree with mark_m

Phb’s comment that::

Is misleading.
Nowhere on the packaging did I see reference to the replacement guarantee being conditional on anything.
It is a stand alone promise to customers.

A promise that 2 weeks since I complained remains unfulfilled.

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Those terms and conditions don’t apply, these ones do in relation to fresh foods…

Fresh or Free Guarantee

The Woolworths Returns Policy applies in conjunction with our Fresh or Free Guarantee. Under our Fresh or Free Guarantee, we’ll refund AND replace any fresh food you’re not happy with which is sold online or in-store. ‘Fresh food’ includes any unpackaged products from our Fresh departments and any packaged items marked with the Fresh or Free symbol. Some exclusions may apply. See one of our friendly team members if you have any queries.

Visited our local Woolworths and the conditions are affixed to the front of the service desk, along with policy on scanning errors and sale of cigarettes. The service desk personnel also indicated there are copies hanging in store at various locations. I didn’t check for these.

As indicated above, the package size does not afford all terms and conditions to be displayed on labels, if it did, the label would be enormous. This is possibly why they are available in store and in their website.

It might be asking your own local Woollies where the information is in the store.

(Woolies) I had a prepack punnet where a number of apples looked fine but were rotted in the inside. I took in photos of the cut apples and got a refund and a new punnet, no hassle.

The package does not need to list all the applicable term and conditions.

It would just need to state “(T&C apply)”, or similar, at the end of the guarantee wording. The absence of such an alert implies that terms and conditions do not apply.

Perhaps Woolworths should recall all products that contain false or misleading wording relating to the refund or exchange guarantee.

I doubt they have the manpower for such a recall :slight_smile:
For the record, it’s coming up to 3 weeks since I lodged my online complaint. Clearly the so called fresh food people can’t be bothered to address my concerns.

Seems the communication channel you have selected to use is not working for you.

These chatbots and feedback forms are all computer facilitated, and there is little prospect that there is an actual human intently watching your entries and taking any interest in your specific issue.

The algorithm may well be just throwing your entries into the bit bucket.