COVID-19 coronavirus Consumer Protection FAQ
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.
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.
- Business Closures
- Sport and gym memberships
- Television subscription services
- Food delivery services
- Motor Vehicles
- Commercial tenancy
- Associations, charities and co-operatives
- Further information
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?
A travel agent may have to wait for refunds from multiple suppliers before providing a total refund for a package holiday and this can take a number of weeks. There are known delays during COVID-19 because of the large amount of cancelled trips. Contact your agent to determine a timeframe for the refund. If they do not provide the refund within that timeframe, complain to 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.
19 June update: Qantas has begun contacting its customers to tell them they are entitled to a refund for domestic or international flights cancelled or suspended due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Consumers who may be affected by this policy change are encouraged to contact Qantas.
28 July update: Etihad will offer refunds to consumers who purchased tickets in Australia which were then cancelled due to COVID-19. Etihad has confirmed it will contact consumers who booked directly with the airline, and Australia-based travel agents, to inform them that they can elect to receive a refund for a cancelled flight, even if they previously accepted a flight credit. Consumers who may be affected by this policy and who are not contacted by Etihad or their Australian travel agent by 7 August 2020, should contact the business that sold them their ticket.
Why are my rights different when cancellation is due to government bans?
Your rights may be different when cancellation is due to a government ban 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 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.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) can take complaints with regard to 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 recent advice, Don't rush into buying post-iso holiday (19 May).
What information does Consumer Protection have about Virgin Australia?
Virgin Australia Holdings Pty Ltd (Virgin) has been in administration since 20 April 2020. Deloitte Australia were appointed administrators.
If you have a scheduled flight, check the Virgin Australia website for up-to-date information.
If you have a flight with Virgin subsidiary Tiger Airways Australia, check the Tigerair website for up-to-date information.
My Virgin Australia or Tigerair flight has been cancelled. What do I do?
- Lodge a Proof of Debt Form with Deloitte.
- Contact the travel agent or website you booked through (skip to next option if you booked directly with the airline).
- Check your debit or credit card provider's policy to see if you can get a chargeback.
Virgin Australia is in administration – what about my Velocity Frequent Flyer points?
Velocity Frequent Flyer, while owned by Virgin, is operated by a separate company that is not in administration. However, the redemption of Velocity points was temporarily suspended for a four week period effective as of 20 April 2020.
Velocity Frequent Flyer contacted members to advise that a trustee was in place to oversee the process and that consumers’ points:
- would remain in their account;
- would not expire during this period – the expiration period was paused in accordance with this temporary suspension; and
- would continue to be earned through Velocity Frequent Flyer partners.
Some redemption opportunities have now become available. See the Velocity frequent flyer website for the latest.
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.
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 alternations 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.
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 suppplies 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. There is a safety alert with guidance on packaging and safe use tips for consumers.
Where can I get information about face masks?
Two relevant Department of Health factsheets can be found here:
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.
How are retail trading hours in WA affected?
WA's Coles and Woolworths stores were permitted to open an hour early on Sundays from 31 May 2020 to 21 June 2020, due to COVID-19. The permit has now been extended for two weeks until 5 July 2020. This means Coles and Woolworths stores in WA can open from 10am on Sundays for that period.
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.
Previous COVID-19 related temporary extended trading hours arrangements with some WA supermarkets for early morning opening for elderly and vulnerable consumers, emergency services and health care workers, ended on 17 May 2020.
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? Can I get a refund?
Many public sporting events have been cancelled due to COVID-19 and we encourage ticketholders to first check the terms and conditions to determine what the seller’s refund policy is to confirm whether you're entitled to your money back.
Some ticketing agents are automatically refunding money when events are cancelled, so it is important to monitor the account used to make the purchase for any refunds.
If you haven’t received a refund, contact the ticket seller to discuss. 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 during COVID-19. Clubs could offer postponement of an existing membership to be taken up again once bans are lifted. Clubs may also 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 have paid for a membership with an AFL Team. What are my rights?
The AFL season resumed on 11 June 2020 - 81 days after it was suspended due to COVID-19.
WA clubs the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers are based on the Gold Coast for the first four weeks of matches.
Consumer Protection was in contact with the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers while the clubs worked on options for members and plans have now been released.
The Eagles plan (external site) includes options for members to pledge to the club, receive credit to be used at a future date (default option) or cancel membership to obtain a refund minus $35 costs, but this would mean re-joining the waitlist to continue membership.
Options to pledge, take up "Forever Hero Membership" or donate are covered in the Dockers' plan (external site) for 2020 members.
If you are seeking a refund of your membership, contact the club directly. If you are unable to negotiate a suitable outcome, come to Consumer Protection for assistance.
You can read the AFL's announcement about the season resuming and the format it will take at AFL.com.au (external site).
Gym closures during COVID-19
Do I have to continue making regular payments if the gym is closed?
No, the gym should suspend or stop taking payments from your account.
The Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from taking payments for goods or services when there are reasonable grounds to believe the services won’t be supplied. This applies whether or not your contract allows you to suspend payments.
You may also want to get confirmation in writing that the gym will stop or suspend any further deductions until they can re-open.
What if the payments have already been deducted and the gym is now closed?
Contact the business and request for the payments to be refunded or for additional time to be added on to your contract to reflect the closure period.
If you are not happy with the remedy offered, come to Consumer Protection.
What if I have made an upfront payment that covers the gym closure period?
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. This means if payments have already been deducted you are within your rights to approach the business for a refund.
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. 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.
We’re aware that some gyms are providing alternative services. Consumers do not have to accept the offer of an alternative and can request a refund, credit note or voucher if they prefer.
If your gym is not offering alternatives, then you may wish to request a refund, credit note or voucher.
You may also have rights under contract law where the contract can no longer be performed.
Please remember these are unprecedented times for everybody which is why consumers need to be patient while waiting for the business to respond. It is highly likely your gym is dealing with many similar enquiries from other consumers.
My gym has re-opened but only partially. Do I have to pay?
This will depend on what your membership agreement says and how the gym is currently operating.
From 18 May 2020, WA sport and recreation venues could reopen but many limited capacity to maintain social distancing in line with government restrictions and provided a partial service compared with their normal member options. From 6 June 2020 restrictions were lifted further.
- Gyms should not commence charging regular membership fees until restrictions are lifted to a point that they can supply what was originally agreed upon in your membership.
- Some gyms are charging an attendance fee for members to attend individual classes, which is OK as long as you are not also expected to pay your usual membership fee. Individual class attendance fees should be charged in place of your usual member payment that covers full use of the gym and its services.
- For members who have paid in advance, for example a 12 month membership, gyms should be extending the timeframe, free of charge, to cover the period from when restrictions were put in place to when they are fully lifted.
Consumer Protection recommends you check with your gym to see what plans they have in place with regard to classes and the charging of membership fees. If you are not happy with the response or feel you are paying for something that you didn’t agree to, come to Consumer Protection.
My gym has re-opened under Phase 3 of WA’s roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
What if I am dissatisfied with the terms of the re-opening?
Most WA gyms are reopening or preparing to reopen in line with Phase 3. This means many will be able to return to near normal services.
However, there may be some ongoing restrictions due to limited numbers they can accommodate or cleaning schedules that should be adhered to.
If you are unable to obtain the service as agreed in your original membership due to current restrictions or are unhappy with the terms of the re-opening, you should speak with your fitness centre about either continuing to keep your membership on hold or seeking an early termination of your agreement.
If you are unable to resolve this with them, come to Consumer Protection.
Can I get a refund if an upcoming event is cancelled due to COVID-19?
Event ticketholders 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. Most ticketing agents are refunding directly back to the original purchaser, so monitor the bank account associated with the card used to make the purchase, to check for any refunds. Alternatively, you may be offered to attend the event on a rescheduled date.
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 has cancelled my booking. Am I entitled to a refund of my deposit?
If you have been planning your wedding, you may find you now have to postpone your event until such a time as social distancing and other government restrictions are lifted.
If your venue has cancelled the booking due to government restrictions, this may impact your rights under the Australian Consumer Law however it is essential you contact your venue to discuss the options available to you.
This may include postponing the event and having any deposit held by the venue, the venue providing a refund of any payments made, or other 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.
Matters coming into Consumer Protection regarding the cancellation of events are being assessed on a case-by-case basis as individual circumstances can vary greatly.
Contact us for advice, should you need it, on your particular situation.
Some couples may have wedding insurance so it is important to review your policy to see whether are covered for a cancellation and under what circumstances and if you are dissatisfied with a decision in this circumstance, you can escalate this 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.
Matters coming into Consumer Protection regarding the cancellation of events are being assessed on a case-by-case basis as individual circumstances can vary greatly. 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?
Major sporting codes in Australia and overseas have cancelled, suspended or postponed their seasons due to COVID-19, which means many popular live sports are no longer available on these platforms.
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.
Please remember these are unprecedented times so consumers are encouraged to be patient while waiting for the business to respond. It is highly likely the business is dealing with many similar enquiries from other consumers.
We note consumers are having some difficulty in contacting providers and understand that providers are working to resolve this. We encourage consumers to be patient and examine the variety of communication avenues available to contact the provider.
I have subscribed to a food delivery supplier which has stopped its delivery service:
Do I have to continue making regular payments?
No, there should be no further payments while supply or delivery of food has stopped. The Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from taking payments when there are reasonable grounds to believe the services won’t be supplied. This applies whether or not your contract allows you to suspend payments.
What if the payments have already been deducted?
Contact the business to request the payments to be refunded.
You may also want to get confirmation in writing that the service will suspend any further deductions until such time it is able to re-commence trading.
What if I have made an upfront payment that covers the period when the food supply has been suspended
You should receive a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher while the food supply has 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.
Please remember these are unprecedented times for everybody so consumers are encouraged to be patient while waiting for the business to respond. It is highly likely the business is dealing with many similar enquiries from other consumers.
Has anyone in WA lost money to COVID-19 scams?
Yes, at least $70,000 has been lost according to reports made to WA ScamNet. A warning was issued on 12 May 2020.
Where can I go for WA information on COVID-19 scams?
Consumer Protection’s WA ScamNet website has a new page about COVID-19 related scams. The information will be updated as new scams emerge during the pandemic, so it’s a good idea to save the page to your favourites and check back regularly for updates.
COVID-19 scam warnings issued by the ACCC and ASIC:
- Rise in investment scams during COVID-19 pandemic (ASIC - 24 June)
- Don't get scammed looking for a lockdown puppy (ACCC - 18 May)
- Scammers targeting superannuation in COVID-19 crisis (ACCC - 6 April)
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 infom older Western Australians about scams during COVID-19.
A new fact sheet has been created and hard copies will distributed via home help volunteers, aged care services providers, seniors community organisations and at retirements villages, in addition to e-mail outs.
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 WAScamNet 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.
- Information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on residential tenancy is now located on the dedicated Residential tenancies - COVID-19 response page.
- Visit the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme page for details about the new State Government grants for residential tenants.
- Visit the COVID-19 Residential Tenancies Mandatory Conciliation Service page for details about the new conciliation service for landlords and tenants.
- Information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on commercial tenancy is now located on the dedicated Commercial tenancies - COVID-19 response page.
- Visit Land Tax Assistance for Landlords via the Small Business Development Corporation for information regarding assistance for commerical landlords.
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?
Vistit 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
- Commissioner's Blog: Cancelling contracts during COVID-19
- New WA code provides certainty for commercial tenants
- Don't rush into buying post-iso holiday
- New service helps tenants and landlords resolve COVID-19 tenancy issues
- $70,000 in losses reported from victims of COVID-19-related scams
- New $154.5 million relief package to support tenants, landlords and construction industry
- Tenants urged to continue to pay rent if they can
- Don’t get caught by fake COVID-19 coronavirus cures and cons
- Commissioner's Blog: Your consumer rights during COVID-19 coronavirus
- Commissioner's Blog: Weigh-up your rights as gyms close
Other government agencies (external links)
- Department of Health (TGA) - SGC Products fined $63,000 for alleged unlawful advertising on "Dr. Ageless" website in relation to COVID-19 (31 July)
- ACCC - ACCC proposes to continue to allow airlines to cooperate on regional routes (30 July)
- ACCC - Etihad offers refunds for all cancelled flights purchased in Australia (28 July)
- ACCC - Proposal to allow continued cooperation on fuel supply security measures (23 July)
- Department of Health (TGA) - Lorna Jane fined almost $40,000 for alleged advertising breaches in relation to COVID-19 and "anti-virus activewear" (17 July)
- ACCC - ACCC proposes to allow supermarkets to continue cooperating on grocery supply (15 July)
- Department of Health (TGA) - Australia's first COVID treatment approved (10 July)
- ACCC - April petrol prices plummeted to record lows (6 July)
- ASIC - Rise in investment scams during COVID-19 pandemic (24 June)
- ACCC - Qantas offers refunds for flight cancellations (19 June)
- ASIC - ASIC’s Interim Corporate Plan for 2020-21 (11 June)
- Department of Health (TGA) - Perth doctor fined $37,800 for alleged advertising breaches including references to COVID-19 (20 May)
- ACCC - Don't get scammed looking for a lockdown puppy (18 May)
- Department of Health (TGA) – MMS Australia fined $151,200 for alleged unlawful advertising (13 May)
- ACCC - Flight Centre to refund cancellation fees (3 May)
- ACCC - Retailers granted authorisation to collectively negotiate with landlords (22 April)
- ACCC - COVID-19: Product safety at home (15 April)
- ACCC - COVID-19: Takata compulsory and NADI 5-AT recalls (14 April)
- ACCC - Co-operation on funding to aid smaller lenders during COVID-19 (8 April)
- ACCC - Scammers targeting superannuation in COVID-19 crisis (6 April)
- ACCC - Oil companies allowed to co-operate to secure fuel supply during COVID-19 pandemic (3 April)
- ACCC - Shopping centres to co-operate to support retail tenants (3 April)
- ASIC - Unlicensed financial advice by real estate agents to tenants (3 April)
- ACCC - Small business guidance about refunds and cancellations due to COVID-19 (2 April)
- ACMA - Telco financial hardship policies critical during COVID-19 (2 April)
- ACCC - NBN Co, telcos to coordinate on demand surge and consumer support package (1 April)
- ACCC - Medicine wholesalers to co-operate on access to pharmaceutical products (31 March)
- ACCC - Banks authorised to co-operate on loan relief and services (30 March)
- ACCC - Response to COVID-19 pandemic (27 March)
- Department of Health - TGA issues warning about illegal advertising relating to COVID-19 (26 March)
- ScamWatch - Warning on COVID-19 scams (26 March)
- MoneySmart - COVID-19 making financial decisions (26 March)
- ACCC - COVID-19 (coronavirus) information for consumers (26 March)
Additional COVID-19 support (external links)
- Tenancy WA not-for-profit community legal centre for residential tenants in WA
- The Financial Counsellors’ Association of Western Australia can assist with money matters
- Stopping Family Violence fact sheet: Accessing Family and Domestic Violence Support during COVID-19
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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