I urge consumers to report illegal “no refund” signs after one in five NSW businesses were found to be displaying them. The alarming figure had been revealed after Fair Trading conducted a recent blitz, visiting more than 550 businesses to see if they were displaying the illegal signs.
I have been advised by the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Mr Matt Kean, that under the Australian Consumer Law, retailers were not permitted to post “no refund” signs in their shops or print similar messages on receipts or invoices. This is because they imply a refund is not possible even when a product is defective. Consumers aren’t always entitled to refund – for example, if they have just changed their mind. However, they certainly do have the right to a refund if there is a problem with a product, and to suggest otherwise is illegal.
To improve compliance with the law, NSW Fair Trading conducted Operation Refund on February 20 and 21, 2017. Twelve consumer protection officers visited 561 retailers at 52 locations across metropolitan and regional NSW. One hundred and twenty businesses – or about one in five – had illegal messaging about refunds on signs, invoices or receipts. Clothing shops were the worst offenders, with non-compliance detected in 68 – or more than half – the premises visited, followed by discount variety shops (13) and pharmacies (six).
At each business, Fair Trading personnel educated the traders about the law, removed unlawful signs, and provided alternate signs with legal wording. Most of the offending retailers visited during Operation Refund claimed to be unaware of the law, or the fact that they could be penalised up to $11,000 if prosecuted.
Consumers concerned about “no refund” signage should contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20.