Consumer Protection’s tips for safer Christmas shopping

WA Consumer Protection has issued a list of tips to help shoppers protect their rights over Christmas.
WA Consumer Protection has issued a list of tips to help shoppers protect their rights over Christmas.

The Christmas shopping period has now begun and it’s important for consumers to remember a few key tips to ensure they actually get what they pay for when buying gifts for family and friends.

Many post-Christmas complaints received by Consumer Protection relate to gifts bought online that don’t arrive on time, so it’s important to confirm that delivery can be guaranteed before Christmas Day when placing an order.

Buying local, whether online or in-store, will increase your chances of an on-time delivery and provide full protection on your purchases. If you purchase from overseas based businesses, you may not be protected by the Australian Consumer Law with regard to your refund, repair or replacement rights.

Those protections come in the form of a consumer guarantee that the gifts you buy will be free from defects, fit for their intended purpose, match the description in any advertising and are safe to use.

If you do need to claim a refund, repair or replacement then you will need proof of purchase so keep all the receipts for the gifts you buy although you do not need to keep the original packaging.

Returns based on wrong size, style or colour will be at the store’s discretion and depend on their individual returns policy. The returns policy is in addition to, not instead of, your consumer guarantee rights.

Remember, goods purchased overseas must comply with Australian safety standards, particularly in relation to toys and electrical products.

We’ve had many cases in the past of electrical products, such as power adaptors, coming into the country that can endanger lives and pose a fire risk to property.

When shopping online we recommend that consumers:

  • Only use secure websites to make payment to protect against fraud and unauthorised credit card transactions. A secure website address will always begin with ‘https’, not ‘http’ and will display the image of a closed padlock which contains the site’s security certificate.
  • Never give out bank account details, credit card numbers or other personal details if you are not certain that the business is a reputable trader.
  •  Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of sale, the refund policy, the delivery details, returns and repairs policies, and any associated costs such as currency conversion or delivery fees.
  • Only buy from websites you know and trust. Check that the company has a physical street address and landline phone number. Beware of scams as we’ve had many instances of fake websites and there are also fake sellers who like to advertise on sites like Gumtree.
  • Gift vouchers are also a popular option but we might as well recommend giving cash instead. Often the gift goes to the retailer instead of the recipient because many consumers fail to redeem their cards before they expire. 

It’s estimated that retailers make hundreds of millions of dollars each year from unused gift cards.

The new trend in gift cards is for longer expiry times, but it is important you check first and favour those that are not limited.

Receivers of gift cards should take note of the terms and conditions and the expiry date, and then set a reminder in their phone or via our free iShopWA app for consumers.

The iShopWA app is a free download from both the Apple app store and Google Play.

The app puts information about your consumer rights at your fingertips plus it lets you store photos of receipts and set reminders.

WA shoppers who wish to seek advice or complain about an issue with a retailer can contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or send an email to consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

More information is also available on our website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au.

- Annetta Bellingeri

Department of Consumer Protection (South West) WA

This story Consumer Protection’s tips for safer Christmas shopping first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.