Commissioner's blog: Are you covered for change of mind?
When it comes to booking holidays or buying presents online, the terms and conditions (t&cs) matter now more than ever.
This is because some businesses may now have extra policies in place as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that could include how they respond to a ‘change of mind’ purchase or booking.
Your consumer rights apply if the product or service is faulty or not as described, regardless of whether it is on sale or occurs during a pandemic.
However, if a consumer changes their mind about a purchase or wishes to exchange it for something else, businesses are not obliged to provide a refund or replacement.
Some businesses may have a ‘change of mind’ policy, which they must honour, but it is important to check whether this has changed, ie. for hygiene reasons.
While deliveries may be delayed this year, you are entitled to a remedy if your product never arrives, so contact the business to resolve the issue in the first instance.
The other key online transaction being anticipated at this time of year is holiday bookings.
While we are looking forward to safe holidays, it is important to realise that the health situation could change rapidly.
If a consumer cancels a booking before restrictions are enforced, they are effectively changing their mind about the purchase, meaning the business is not obliged to provide a refund on any deposit or payment already made.
It also means that if a border closes and you can’t make your booking, you need to know what you are entitled to. Read the t&cs and contact the business if circumstances change.
Consider purchasing travel insurance if you are uncertain about whether ‘change of mind’ refunds will be provided, and check with your insurer about what is covered under the policy before you purchase.
For more information on COVID-19 issues affecting consumers, see: COVID-19 (coronavirus) information for consumers | ACCC
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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