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Shopping from home
When people shop from home the same consumer laws apply as when they buy from a bricks and mortar store (if the business is located in Australia).
Buying products online is convenient but can make it harder to judge the quality, size and colour of items. Before you buy:
- check the reputation of the business - eg online reviews
- check the product description, including dimensions
- look at images that show different angles or close-ups
- check the business is registered in Australia
- read the refund policy including who pays for postage.
Make sure you have up-to-date security on your device.
At the checkout
When you get to the online checkout:
- check that the site is secure - look for 'https' and the padlock symbol next to the web address
- save important documents such as order confirmation, receipts and warranties.
Television and mail shopping
Television and mail shopping often use 'special' promotions as a sales tactic. Recognise when you are being put under extra pressure to buy - eg 'only 100 available', 'on sale for 30 minutes only' and 'introductory offer'. Protect yourself and make sure you:
- understand the terms and conditions of the sales contract
- know if postage is included
- check how to return the goods if there is a problem
- confirm when the goods will be delivered.
Consumers have extra protections when a salesperson contacts them at home, over the phone or in a public place - eg shopping centre.
Door-to-door salespeople must not visit a customer (without an appointment) at the following times:
- on a Sunday or a public holiday
- before 9.00 am or after 6.00 pm on a weekday
- before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm on a Saturday.
Salespeople must tell customers:
- their name
- who they work for
- why they're at the customer's door.
If the customer agrees to buy a product or service, the salesperson must:
- give the customer copies of any agreed contracts
- let the customer know about their cooling-off rights
- not supply any goods or services during the cooling-off period.
Customers can place a do not knock sign on their front door to stop door-to-door salespeople visiting without an appointment - this excludes religious groups or charity fundraisers.
Telemarketing and door-to-door sales, on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website, gives you more detail about the customer's legal rights with telemarketers and door-to-door salespeople.
Chargeback - credit
Your credit provider may authorise a credit to your (credit) account, known as a chargeback, if you have not received goods or services, or if there is a breach of a consumer guarantee.
Contact your credit card provider to apply for a refund if you have paid for goods or services using that card, or pressed ‘credit’ when using a debit card - it doesn't matter if the business is no longer operating. There are often time limits to dispute the transaction. More information is available from the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia.
Remember, you are covered by the same consumer laws when buying from home as with a bricks and mortar store.
Visit Solving a problem with a business for instructions on how to complain to a business and where to go for advice.