COVID-19 coronavirus Consumer Protection FAQ

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The Commissioner for Consumer Protection has issued some advice about your consumer rights during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with the below frequently asked questions addressing retail, travel, memberships and services issues and how they are covered by legislation.

For information regarding tenancy see Residential tenancies - COVID-19 response and Commercial tenancies - COVID-19 response 

This information will be updated regularly as new guidance is available.

The ACCC also provides information on the rights and obligations of businesses in response to events caused by COVID-19.  

Topic categories:


My flight, cruise or tour has been cancelled. Am I entitled to a refund?

If your travel has been cancelled, in most circumstances Consumer Protection expects that you will receive a refund or other remedy, such as a credit note or voucher. Consumers should check the original terms and conditions of their contract and contact their supplier to discuss.

We are aware that travel cancelled due to government restrictions may impact your rights under the Australian Consumer Law. We encourage all businesses to work with their customers and treat them fairly in these exceptional circumstances.

If you are unhappy or unsure about whether a refund or other remedy is fair and reasonable, contact Consumer Protection.

The ACCC has also published guidance for the Travel Industry where services have been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What do I need to look for in contract terms and conditions?

Check if your contract contains a ‘force majeure’ clause on pandemics, infectious diseases or epidemics.

‘Force majeure’ clauses may allow contracts to be paused or terminated when the agreement cannot be fulfilled because of an extraordinary event or circumstances outside the control of the parties (business and consumer).

‘Force majeure’ clauses will likely mean a business can suspend the contract for the duration of the pandemic emergency period (for example provide a credit note and deliver the service at a later date) rather than excusing them from the agreement altogether. Get legal advice or come to Consumer Protection if you are unsure about your rights.

If there is no clause, term or condition about pandemics to determine what should happen, but the contract has been affected by the pandemic or associated restrictions, then the contract may be a ‘frustrated contract':

A ‘frustrated contract’ may happen when an event outside the control of either the business or consumer, such as travel restrictions imposed because of COVID-19, result in contractual obligations not being met. Determining if a contract has been ‘frustrated’ in a legal sense can be complex.

Consumers should request a refund or other remedy considered to be fair, such as a credit note or voucher. If you cannot reach a resolution seek assistance from Consumer Protection.

If I cancel my holiday, can my travel provider charge cancellation fees?

Yes. However, any cancellation fees should be outlined in the original terms and conditions in the contract and new terms and conditions cannot be introduced due to the pandemic.

If you have a holiday package, fees may be charged by each individual provider such as airlines, cruise operators, tour operators or accommodation providers in addition to cancellation fees charged by a travel agent you booked with.

Any fees should be reasonable and justifiable, for example administration costs associated with providing the service. If you believe unreasonable fees are being charged, come to Consumer Protection and we will review these arrangements carefully. 

My airline, accommodation provider, cruise operator or tour company has already refunded my travel agent. 
Why hasn't the agent passed on the money?

Your travel agent may have to seek refunds from multiple suppliers to refund the total amount for your package holiday. There are known delays during COVID-19 because of the large amount of cancelled trips. The agent is required to pass on recovered funds to you as soon as possible, even when they are still attempting or have been unable to recover funds from other suppliers involved in your booking. Contact your agent to determine the status of your refund. If they are not responsive, lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection.

Can airlines provide credit notes/vouchers during COVID-19?

Yes. If a consumer accepts an airline credit note or voucher as a remedy there is no problem.

However, in certain circumstances it may not suit the consumer to receive a credit note. For example if someone is in severe financial hardship or unable to travel in future for health reasons, a refund minus reasonable costs should be considered by the airline/flight service provider.

Consumer Protection would like to see appropriate flexibility for individual scenarios.

When it comes to providing credit notes/vouchers, there needs to be a reasonable amount of time for consumers to book and use the credit following the lifting of travel restrictions, or the ability to change the name on a booking.

When we hear about problems, such as consumers desperate for a refund and unable to get their money back, short timeframes to redeem a credit note or a lack of flexibility for vouchers, we will investigate and see if there’s anything we can do.

Why are my rights different when cancellation is due to government bans?

Your rights may be different because government bans may make it illegal for a business to supply the goods or services.

However, Consumer Protection expects businesses will take reasonable precautions to ensure supply will not be affected by a ban before they enter into a contract. 

The ability to obtain a refund may also depend on the terms and conditions in your contract with the travel supplier. A business cannot change the terms and conditions of a contract after a government ban is introduced. 

If you believe you’re entitled to a refund, call Consumer Protection for advice on your particular situation. 

I purchased a flight and accommodation for a trip overseas, but the airline has cancelled the flight.
Will I be compensated for the hotel costs?

Contact the business you booked through, or hotel directly, to see if they are prepared to offer a refund, replacement or voucher.

Refer to the terms and conditions on your booking, as itinerary changes are usually covered in the contract.

You may be entitled to compensation for expenses under the Australian Consumer Law but this will depend on the specific circumstances and whether the cancellation was because of government restrictions.

I want to cancel my travel booking due to health and safety concerns about COVID-19.
What are my rights in this situation?

If you no longer want to travel due to concerns about COVID-19 and you cancel your booking this may be treated as a 'change of mind'.

You should contact the business to see if you are entitled to a full or partial refund, credit note or voucher for a later date.

If you have a health condition that means you are at higher risk, you should contact the business to discuss your options.

Businesses are encouraged to work with their customers and treat them fairly. Contact Consumer Protection if you wish to discuss your particular situation.

My travel plans haven’t been affected yet, but I am concerned.
What obligations does my travel provider have in these uncertain times?

Many travel providers, including airlines and cruise operators, are offering consumers the opportunity to defer travel during COVID-19 by offering a credit to be used in the future. Contact the airline, operator or booking agent to discuss your options. Before accepting any offer make sure the terms suit you, for example flexibility around the voucher expiry date and future bookings.

Will travel insurance cover a cancelled trip?

Travel insurance may cover cancellation if the holiday and insurance was booked before the insurer’s cut-off date for the COVID-19 exemption.

Read your travel insurance policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (this could be with your credit card provider if you paid by credit card and your particular credit card offers travel insurance) as some policies do not cover epidemics or pandemics.

'Change of mind' cancellations are not usually covered.

If you have any questions about what your policy covers, contact your insurer. 

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) can take complaints about travel insurance.

If I cannot use my travel insurance, can I get my money back?

Consumer Protection is aware some major travel insurance providers are offering refunds for customers whose holidays have been cancelled due to COVID-19. Check with your travel insurance provider to see whether a refund is on offer. If you are not able to get your money back and want to lodge a complaint you should go to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

I paid for a travel visa I no longer need – can I get a refund?

You are not automatically entitled to a refund on a travel visa. Fees paid generally cover government administration costs.

Contact the embassy of the country that issued the travel visa.

Future travel is available to buy, does that mean it's safe to book?

If you're considering booking travel, such as a flight, cruise, accommodation or holiday package, in the medium to long term, the strong advice from Consumer Protection is to read the fine print of the potential booking very carefully.

It's more important than ever to pay close attention to terms or conditions relating to cancellation or postponement of travel. Hotels may charge 100% in advance with no refunds for cancellation as standard terms and conditions, meaning you will not even get a credit note if you cancel. Airlines or travel agents may deduct fees or charges from refunds or place restrictions on future credit.

In a pandemic recovery phase, trips may not be able to go ahead as soon as you think because of various national and international government restrictions. You could end up losing money or sitting on a credit note or voucher while you wait for restrictions to be lifted, rather than having the cash to spend on local travel or something else.

Be aware that insurance purchased now for future travel is unlikely to cover any loss incurred due to continuation or re-emergence of COVID-19.

Read the Commissioner's advice, Don't rush into buying post-iso holiday (19 May).

How might sudden travel restrictions impact my booking?

Sudden border closures or intra-state travel restrictions may affect your travel plans. As with all future travel arrangements, carefully check the terms and conditions before you book.

If you have been impacted by sudden travel restrictions, contact your travel provider to discuss your options. 

Businesses are encouraged to work with their customers and treat them fairly. Contact Consumer Protection if you wish to discuss your particular situation.

Also see our Advice for travellers affected by COVID019 confusion and cancellations.

What information does Consumer Protection have about Virgin Australia?

Virgin Australia is under new ownership. Visit the Virgin Australia website for information about flights and flight credits

Tigerair has officially been shut down. What happens to my flight credit?

Consumers who held a credit or booking with Tigerair automatically received equivalent value Future Flight credits for travel with Virgin Australia. Visit Virgin Australia's Tigerair Australia Update page for more information. 

What information does Consumer Protection have about AirAsia X?

AirAsia X is in a form of voluntary administration to allow it to restructure its debts and corporate structure. For information about how this may impact your bookings or flight credits, visit the AirAsia X website

I have been asked to pay the balance of my travel booking. What should I do?

Depending on when you are due to travel, the nature of your booking and current government advice, Consumer Protection encourages consumers to discuss any request to pay further funds toward future bookings with your agent or supplier.

At this stage, travel bans are in place with no end date specified. In those circumstances, businesses should not be demanding payments for travel bookings that cannot proceed under current travel bans.

If you still wish to keep your travel booking in case restrictions are lifted in the future, you may wish to negotiate to pay the balance closer to the travel date and subject to the lifting of the current bans.

I have been advised that my refund could take up to 12 weeks to be processed. Is this correct?

In normal circumstances, refunds from an agent can take up to 12 weeks whilst the agent waits on the return of the funds from their suppliers.

Consumer Protection is acutely aware that many businesses are struggling to manage the volume of enquiries, so we urge you to be patient as responding to your request may take longer than usual.

What information does Consumer Protection have about STA Travel?

STA Travel is in liquidation and the business is now closed.  Deloitte, the appointed liquidator, has provided information and guidance regarding refunds and future bookings for affected consumers. 


I have a gift card which is due to expire and the business is temporarily closed. What can I do?

Most gift cards supplied after 1 November 2019 should be valid for three years so if yours was supplied after this date and is already due to expire, come to Consumer Protection for advice and assistance.

If the gift card was supplied before this date, or is excluded due to nature of the gift card, then we encourage consumers to contact the business to discuss the extension of the gift card to allow for the temporary closure of the business.

Consumer Protection expects that if you are unable to use the gift card while the business is temporarily closed, that the supplier will consider:

  • reimbursing the remaining value on the gift card;
  • extending the expiry period; or
  • amending the terms so you can use it online, if that’s a possibility.

If you are unable to contact the business, or do not have any luck in resolving your issue, come to Consumer Protection.

I left my goods at a business for repairs or alterations and the business has temporarily closed
due to COVID-19. What can I do?

Try to contact the business directly to negotiate the return of your goods. Generally speaking, most businesses will have a way to contact them so check a variety of channels.

If the business was unable to undertake the repairs or alterations as originally agreed due to COVID-19, you may be entitled to a refund of what you paid or you may be able to negotiate an extension of when the services can be supplied.

If you are unable to contact the business to negotiate the return of your goods or come to an acceptable resolution, come to Consumer Protection.

I have a gift card, or paid for a series of services in advance, and the business has closed permanently.
What can I do?

If a business has become insolvent, you may become an ‘unsecured credit’ if you have:

  • Bought or received a gift card and have not used it;
  • Been issued with a credit note; and/or
  • Paid in advance for products or services.

If the business continues to trade under the control of an external administrator, you may still receive products or services that you have paid for, or be able to use gift cards or credit notes to some extent.

If you have concerns with regard to a closed business, contact Consumer Protection for more advice or see our Insolvency page.


How can I save money on my groceries during COVID-19?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused financial hardship for many Australians. One way to help you budget and save while grocery shopping, is using unit pricing.

Is excessive pricing legal?

A person who has purchased essential goods in a retail transaction on or after 30 January 2020, and for the period of the COVID-19 emergency, is prohibited from on-selling the same goods for more than 120 per cent of the original purchase price. The initial purchase must have been a ‘consumer-facing’ or retail transaction, rather than wholesale purchases made by major suppliers, manufacturers or legitimate business activities. 

What are essential goods?

Any of the following used to limit the transmission of COVID-19 are considered essential goods:

  • disposable face masks;
  • disposable gloves;
  • disposable gowns;
  • goggles, glasses or eye visors; 
  • alcohol wipes; 
  • hand sanitiser.

Report price gouging of essential goods via the AFP website.

Is the private re-sale of consumer goods legal?

Yes, and private sellers can re-sell ordinary consumer goods, such as toilet paper, soap or pasta, and set the prices they choose. It is up to consumers to decide whether they pay the asking price. 

However, there are rules around the sale of essential goods such as face-masks and hand sanitiser. See 'Is excessive pricing legal?' above.

How can members of the community who are isolating at home get important shopping such as medical supplies and groceries?

Major supermarkets are offering online delivery services. Friends or relatives may also be able to help.

Australia Post has a Pharmacy Home Delivery Service to assist vulnerable members of the community or people in isolation to access essential medications.

The Department of Communities’ COVID-19 Enquiries Line may be able to help.

My Aged Care offers assistance in relation to food, meals, etc.

Are there any product safety issues when it comes to hand sanitiser?

Australian consumer law regulators are aware of incidents of children ingesting hand sanitiser. A new mandatory information standard has been introduced requiring alcohol based hand sanitiser to display the percentage of alcohol as well as safety and storage information. 

On 16 December, Product Safety Australia issued a recall for White Knight Antibacterial Hand Sanitiser 500mL and White Knight Sweet Berry Antibacterial Hand Sanitiser 500mL. The alcohol content is less than stated on the label so may reduce effectiveness and increase the risk of illness.

Can a business insist on contactless payment?

There is no law that prevents a business from either refusing or insisting on a specific method of payment, however we encourage all businesses to clearly display their preferred method to prevent any confusion and ensure consumers are aware before their purchase.

Given the highly infectious nature of COVID-19 coronavirus, we encourage consumers to be patient with businesses who have introduced contactless payments as a safety measure for employees and customers.

I have ordered goods online since the pandemic was declared and delivery is delayed. What should I do?

Contact the supplier immediately to ask whether the goods are still available and when you can expect delivery.

Many businesses are struggling to manage delays in supply so we urge you to be patient and anticipate some deliveries may take longer than usual.

If the goods do not arrive in the agreed timeframe or a reasonable amount of time, your Australian Consumer Law rights mean you can ask for a refund or other remedy such as a credit note.

Note: If you're looking to purchase online over the Christmas and New Year period be aware that delivery times may be extended. Check delivery providers’ websites regarding delays. 

How are retail trading hours in WA affected?

It is always best to check opening hours with your local store. Consumer Protection also has a retail trading hours page that is updated if extended trading hours permits are granted.


I want to buy a pet during COVID-19. Do you have any advice?

Many people are buying family pets during COVID-19 because they are spending more time at home. Before you purchase a pet, we recommend you review our Guide to consumer rights when buying a pet. Think carefully about the right pet for your family, where to buy them from and what to look out for, such as hereditary conditions that are common in particular breeds.

If you buy a pet and something goes wrong, contact the seller to try to resolve the problem. If you do not get a suitable outcome, come to Consumer Protection.

Watch out for pet scams

An increase in pet scams has been seen during COVID-19.

Often scammers advertise sought-after pets, such as designer puppies, for sale online and offer to ship the pet to you from interstate or overseas. Do your research before buying a pet, and be wary of deals that look too good to be true.

Pet scams usually require you to make payment through a bank transfer. The scammers may blame COVID-19 for delayed delivery or use it as an excuse to ask for extra fees for vet expenses.  In the end, no pet is supplied and generally the money cannot be recovered. If in doubt, contact Consumer Protection or visit WA ScamNet


What happens if I have a ticket to attend a sporting event that has been cancelled? Can I get a refund?

In the event that a public sporting event is cancelled due to COVID-19, we encourage ticket holders to check the terms and conditions of the ticket to determine whether you're entitled to your money back or some other type of remedy, such as a credit to attend a future event.

Contact the ticket seller to discuss what your remedy options are. If you are unable to negotiate a suitable outcome, contact Consumer Protection and we can attempt to negotiate an outcome for you. 

I have a community sport or club membership, such as swimming or junior football. What are my rights?

Community sports club memberships may include the supply of goods or services (uniforms etc.) and fees to participate in events. Each club should be able to tell you what their plans are if they are affected by COVID-19. Clubs may offer a refund or other remedy such as a credit note for any part of the membership package they are no longer able to supply. Clubs can deduct reasonable charges for expenses already incurred.

See our COVID-19 coronavirus - Advice for incorporated associations and clubs page for more information.

I'm considering purchasing an AFL team membership for next season. What are my rights?

AFL teams are now offering memberships for the 2021 AFL season. We advise consumers to carefully check the terms and conditions of the membership offer before signing up - in particular, the refund or other remedy options offered in the event of changes to advertised match access.

If you have any membership queries for either the upcoming season or previous seasons contact the club directly. 

Gym closures during COVID-19

My gym was closed for a period of time due to government restrictions.
What if I made an upfront payment that covered the gym closure period?

In ordinary circumstances, Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from taking payments when they are unable to supply a service, even when the contract specifies payments can’t be suspended. This means if payments have already been deducted you are normally within your rights to approach the business for a refund.

However, when a service is suspended due to government restrictions (such as in this instance), your right to a full refund may be impacted. You should look at the terms and conditions of your contract and any cancellation policy announced by the business, and get in touch with them directly.

You may also have rights under contract law where the contract can no longer be performed. 

My gym is operating under Phase 4 of WA’s roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
What if I am dissatisfied with the services offered?

Most WA gyms have returned to near normal services.

There may, however, be some ongoing restrictions due to limited numbers they can accommodate or cleaning schedules that they are required to adhere to.

If you are unable to resolve any ongoing membership issues with your gym, contact Consumer Protection. 


Can I get a refund if an upcoming event is cancelled due to COVID-19?

Event ticket holders should keep up to date with events and any possible cancellations. Promoters and venues have information regarding cancellations on their websites or consumers may receive an email or a text if the promoter has their contact details.

If you are concerned about an event that you are due to attend, you should go back to the promoter or ticketing agent to check the refund policy.

If you are not satisfied with the remedy offered, contact Consumer Protection.  

I want to buy tickets to an upcoming event. Should I get ticket insurance?

Consider your personal needs and the insurer's terms and conditions to decide if it's the right product for you.

Each insurer’s terms and conditions will vary, so review the policy in detail to see what coverage is provided and what is excluded.


My venue cancelled my booking. Am I entitled to a refund of my deposit?

If a venue cancelled your booking due to government restrictions, then your rights under the Australian Consumer Law may be impacted. If you haven’t already done so, you should contact the venue to discuss the options available to you.

These options may include postponing the event and having the venue

  • hold any deposit that has been paid;
  • provide a refund of any payments made; or
  • provide another remedy such as a credit note.

It is important to check the terms and conditions of your booking to determine what happens in the event of a normal cancellation. 

Contact us if further advice is required about your particular situation. 

Some couples may have wedding insurance, so it is important to review your policy to see whether you are covered for a cancellation and under what circumstances. If you make a claim on your insurance policy and are dissatisfied with a decision, you can escalate a complaint through the insurer’s Informal Dispute Resolution process. 

I ordered my wedding dress online from an overseas supplier and am worried I may not receive it in time.

If you ordered your wedding dress online from overseas and you are worried it may not be delivered in time, contact your supplier immediately to determine whether the dress is still available and when you can reasonably expect to receive it.

We are acutely aware that many businesses are struggling to manage delays in supply so we urge consumers to be patient and anticipate that some deliveries in the current environment may take longer than usual.

If the supplier is unable to provide you with the dress within the timeframe originally agreed, you should be able to obtain a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher.

Contact us for advice, should you need it, on your particular situation.


What happens if I have paid for a television subscription service and I can no longer access the content I wanted due to COVID-19?

If you signed up with your service provider to receive live sports and these sports are no longer available, we expect you will be able to cancel these services and receive a refund or other remedy in most circumstances, and that you will not continue to be charged for your subscription while services cannot be provided.

If you are not receiving what you signed up for, your provider may allow you to cancel the subscription, put your subscription on hold without charge for the period during which they are unable to supply, or offer you an alternative package in substitution for these live sports. We encourage consumers to contact their service provider to discuss what remedy may be suitable to their individual circumstances and contact Consumer Protection if you are unable to negotiate a fair and reasonable outcome.


I made an upfront payment that covered the period when the food supply was suspended or stopped. What are my rights?

You should receive a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher for the period the food supply had stopped. 

In ordinary circumstances, Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from taking payments when it is unable to supply a service, even when the contract specifies payments can’t be suspended. 

However, when a service has been suspended due to government restrictions (such as in this instance), your right to a full refund may be impacted.

It is important to look at the terms and conditions of your contract, and any cancellation policy announced by the business.

Contact the business directly to request a refund or other remedy, such as a credit note or voucher. 


Where can I go for WA information on COVID-19 scams?

Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet website has a COVID-19 related scams page. The information is updated as new scams emerge, so save the page to your favourites and check back regularly for updates.

COVID-19 scam warnings issued by the ACCC and ASIC:

Are older Australians being targeted by COVID-19 scams?

Yes. Older Australians in WA are being targeted by scammers using COVID-19 to take advantage of seniors through bogus phone calls, emails or text messages.

This includes attempts to steal personal information or money via:

  • impersonation of government organisations offering benefits, grants or subsidies;
  • text messages claiming to be about COVID-19 testing, with links that install malicious software if clicked; and
  • advertisements falsely offering cures for COVID-19 or fake websites selling in-demand products such as hand sanitiser.

We know social distancing and disconnecting with the community, which has been necessary during COVID-19, results in older people being vulnerable to scams. Scammers see isolation as a way to manipulate victims and get them to make decisions without consulting anyone.

Consumer Protection/WA ScamNet is working with the Department of Communities, community legal centres and aged care sector organisations on a Seniors Safety Taskforce formed to inform older Western Australians about scams during COVID-19.

See the COVID-19 pandemic scam warning fact sheet for more information.

How do I report a suspected COVID-19 scam?

If you've received a phone, text or email which seems unusual or suspicious, please report it via the WA ScamNet online Report a scam form.


I signed to buy a motor vehicle but can't go through with the deal due to COVID-19 - what now?

Consumer Protection encourages motor vehicle dealers and their customers to negotiate in good faith in situations where the contract to purchase cannot be met due to COVID-19.

A dealer has a legal right to seek a maximum of up to 15 per cent of the purchase price as pre-estimated liquidated damages if the contract is terminated by the purchaser. But any fee charged has to be a genuine and reasonable assessment of losses the dealer is likely to incur as a result of the deal not proceeding.

Read more in the Commissioner's blog: Cancelling contracts during COVID-19.




Where do I find advice for incorporated associations and clubs regarding COVID-19 coronavirus?

Visit our COVID-19 coronavirus - Advice for incorporated associations and clubs page. We suggest you mark the page as a favourite to view updates.

Where can I go for charities advice regarding COVID-19 coronavirus?

Visit the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission's Charity Operations and COVID-19 page for information about relevant issues.

Charitable collections licence holders have been granted an extension of time to submit the annual financial statements. Licence holders whose annual financial statements are due for lodgement between 31 March 2020 and 30 August 2020 now have until 30 September 2020 to submit the required documents with Consumer Protection. Visit the Financial reporting requirements page for more details.

COVID-19 has created an exceptional set of circumstances significantly impacting charities in Australia. In response, a statement has been developed setting out the enforcement approach to be taken by charitable fundraising regulators across Australia.

Where do I find advice for co-operatives regarding COVID-19 coronavirus?

Visit our COVID-19 coronavirus - advice for co-operatives page for information about relevant issues.


Visit the WA Government's COVID-19 coronavirus page for up-to-date information about the COVID-19 pandemic in Western Australia.

The Department of Health is the source-of-truth for COVID-19 health information in WA

More from Consumer Protection

Other government agencies (external links)

Additional COVID-19 support (external links)

Need some assistance?

If you have had no success with the steps you have taken to resolve a problem with a business or trader, you can make a formal complaint to Consumer Protection.

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