Commissioner's Blog: Advice before you splash your cash at the sales

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With Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard

The post-Christmas sales create quite a buzz for shoppers both online and in-store, but remember to shop smart to avoid disappointment with the sales.

Retailers will be keen to get your business, so it’s important to look past the slick marketing and see the real value of deals on offer.

Consumer protection agencies often hear from consumers in January about purchasing decisions they wish they had not made. There are issues with faulty products and sometimes just the realisation that the deal was not that good after all.

With the surge in online sales, consumers are reminded to buy from legitimate retailers, and to check independent reviews of the retailer, product or service.

While the sale price may look good, the retailer may have a string of unhappy customers and the product or service may be getting poor reviews, so it pays to check these things before you buy.

Before you enter payment details online, make sure the webpage is secure so that your information is not accessed by fraudsters.

Also check that the website address starts with ‘https’ (‘s’ for secure) and that there is a closed padlock image in the internet browser.

Take extra care when dealing with overseas sellers or websites as it can be more difficult to contact the retailer if a problem arises.

When returning items, you have the same rights regardless of whether they were bought on sale, bought in-store or online, or received as a gift. If a consumer guarantee has not been met you are entitled to a remedy.

If the product is not of acceptable quality, doesn’t match the description or isn’t fit for purpose, then you should approach the retailer to request a refund, repair or replacement item.

There are many retailers with generous refund policies that will offer to refund or exchange if you change your mind, but consumers need to remember that this is a gesture of goodwill and not your legal right.

If a retailer promotes a generous refund policy, they must honour it. But stores are within their rights to limit such policies by excluding sale items or certain brands and products. Stores are also reminded of their responsibility to provide a remedy when a consumer guarantee has not been met, and not to mislead consumers about their refund rights.

If you do your research, spend wisely and stick to your budget you’re much more likely to have an enjoyable experience when you dive in to the post-Christmas sales.

Further information about shopping rights is available from or you can download our free app iShopWA.

July 2020: Please note the iShopWA app is no longer supported. Consumer Protection recommends the ACCC Shopper app, which offers similar functionality and is available in both the App Store and Google Play. 

Consumer Protection
Department News
22 Dec 2016

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