In Australia, every person has consumer rights and responsibilities, and our trade practices are different from many overseas countries. Every person has the right to be protected from unfair business practices.
This information provides you with basic tips about your consumer rights and responsibilities in NSW.
As a shopper you have certain rights. The information you get about a product or service must be accurate and the product must be labelled correctly. You are entitled to a receipt upon request as a proof of transaction when you buy goods and services. The law gives you consumer guarantees in case things go wrong. It is a promise about what supplier or manufacturer will do against defects under the Australian Consumer Laws (ACL).
The seller should provide a refund (money back), exchange or repair when the product:
If the problem is serious, you can choose to return the product and get a refund. Generally, the seller will require proof of transaction such as a receipt, invoice or credit card statement.
The seller does not have to give you a refund if you:
Read more about Refunds on the Fair Trading website.
When you buy products online or through the internet from an overseas seller, you may not be protected by the Australian Consumer Laws.
Here are some tips to protect yourself when shopping online:
|TIP - Do not use public computers for online shopping or banking as they may not be secure.|
Before placing a deposit on a product, make sure you are definitely going to buy it as you may lose all or part of your deposit if you change your mind.
|TIP - Always keep all receipts and invoices as you may need them if you want to return, repair or exchange the products.|
If you have a problem with something you have bought, follow these steps:
If you are planning to buy a mobile phone or connect to the internet through an internet service provider follow these tips:
|IMPORTANT - If you sign any paperwork, it is probably a contract, which is a legal document. Take the time to carefully read all documents and do not sign anything you are not sure of or do not understand. Do not be afraid to ask questions.|
There are many different phone calling cards that you can use to make local or international calls. If the card has a local customer service number you should call it if you have problems and to find out the following:
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)
If you have a problem with a phone card, phone or internet service, try to sort it out with the seller or your network provider. If you cannot come to an agreement, contact the TIO on 1800 062 058 or visit www.tio.com.au
Before buying a car privately, follow these tips:
My next car is a free app that helps you choose your next car. You can:
Get My Next Car - download the free app today from the App Store or Google Play!
NSW Fair Trading
For information on buying a car go to the Motor vehicles section of the Fair Trading website.
Roads and Maritime Services
For information on buying a new or used car, to register the car or transfer the car registration visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au or call 13 22 13.
For information to register the car or transfer the car registration visit www.service.nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88.
Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR)
To find out if a used car has any debt visit www.ppsr.gov.au or call 1300 007 777. Always do a PPSR check before you buy a car privately.
In Australia most people either rent or buy their own unit or house. To rent a home you have to sign a contract (lease) called a Residential Tenancy Agreement with a landlord. The landlord can use a real estate agent to manage the property for them.
A lease is usually for either 6 or 12 months. Before you sign the lease make sure you understand what you are signing. You can ask the real estate agent or landlord to explain the terms and conditions of your lease before you sign it. Make sure you know exactly how much rent you will need to pay and how you will pay it, for example, every fortnight, by direct debit from your bank account. Keep all your rent receipts or bank statements if you pay on the internet. Don't pay any money until you sign the lease and get the keys, unless you are asked for a holding fee of up to 1 week's rent and your rental application has been approved. The landlord or agent cannot ask you to pay the rent more than 2 weeks in advance.
At the start of every tenancy the landlord or agent is required to give you the Fair Trading fact sheet called New tenant checklist. The checklist is also available in community languages from our website. Make sure you can answer Yes to every statement in the checklist, before you sign the Tenancy Agreement.
You must be given a Condition Report when you sign the Tenancy Agreement. This is a checklist of the condition of each room in the property. You should get two copies, already filled in by the landlord/real estate agent. You need to inspect every room carefully and check whether you agree with what they said and write down if there is anything you do not agree with. It is also a great way to take photos of the property to record the condition of the property when you first move in and make sure you put the dates when the photos were taken. Complete the Condition Report and return one copy to the landlord or agent within 7 days and keep one copy for your records in a safe place. You will need it again when you move out.
Before you move in you will need to pay a bond. This bond money is a form of security for the landlord in case you do not follow the lease agreement. The maximum bond you can be asked to pay is 4 weeks rent. If you are asked to pay a bond make sure you get a receipt. The bond must be lodged with Fair Trading, through Rental Bonds Online securely or through the landlord or agent using a paper Rental Bond lodgement form.
Once you are renting, if something needs to be fixed (for example, a leaking tap) and it's not your fault, the landlord will need to get it repaired in a reasonable time. Some repairs are urgent (such as a gas leak, blocked toilet or electrical fault) and the landlord has to fix them very quickly. You should let your landlord or agent know what needs to be fixed as soon as possible by calling them or sending them an email or a letter. Keep a copy of any emails or letters in case there are problems. You have to continue paying rent while the repairs are being organised.
If you are planning to move out you have to inform your landlord or real estate agent in advance, in writing. Check your Residential Tenancy Agreement for details on how much notice you need to give. You should clean the property and make sure there is no damage or rent owing. Return the keys promptly and arrange to do a final inspection with the agent or landlord. Both you and your landlord should complete and sign a Claim for Refund of Bond Money form to get your bond money back. If you have not caused any damage or owe any money you should get your bond back.
If you are not on a lease with the landlord or a sub-tenant lease, you may be a boarder or lodger. Boarders living in 'registerable' boarding houses have a basic set of rights called occupancy principles for more details visit the Living in a boarding house page.
If you choose to share a rented home, you will have different obligations and processes to follow depending on the type of agreement you enter. Visit the Sharing a rented home page to find out more about agreements and responsibilities.
|TIP - Beware of fake rental advertisements. Always check renting advertisements are real by visiting the property yourself or ask a relative or a friend if you are overseas. Check the company or person's details online or from another independent source. Never pay any money before you sign the lease and have the keys.|
NSW Fair Trading
More information about renting is available in a range of languages from the Fair Trading website. If you have a problem with your landlord call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or 13 14 50 for language assistance.
Provides free assistance and advice to tenants.
Tel: 1800 251 101
NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
Provides a quick and low cost dispute resolution service for tenants, landlords, traders and consumers.
Tel: 1300 006 228
When selecting education and training courses check if the institution you wish to study with is registered to deliver training to overseas students and is listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) at cricos.education.gov.au
By law, a training provider must not accept course money from an international student until the student has signed a written agreement with them. Make sure you fully read and understand the agreement and its terms and conditions before you sign it.
Be aware that if you decide to leave your current education provider, you may not be entitled to a refund of the course money you have paid. You should check the terms and conditions of the written agreement that you signed when you first enrolled for details.
If you want to transfer from one training provider to another and you have not yet completed 6 months of your principal course then you must request permission to do so from your current provider. If you have signed up to a package of courses, the principal course is the one at the highest qualification level. You do not need to pay any money to the new provider or their agent until you have received your letter of release from your current provider. If you are released, only then you can complete your enrolment and sign a written agreement with the new provider.
If you have any questions or problems with your study, safety, accommodation or work, you should contact the International Students Office of your institution or call Australian Education International Student on 1300 615 262 for assistance.
Australian Education International
If your education and training institution has not delivered the training or course you are enrolled in or the training provider has closed, call Australian Education International on 1300 615 262 or make an enquiry through the online ESOS Enquiry Form at www.internationaleducation.gov.au Australian Education International also has information on students rights and obligations, transferring to another education provider and other subjects.
Overseas Students Ombudsman for students with private providers
If you have a problem with your non-government (private) education provider, and you have told them about it but the problem is still not fixed, contact the Overseas Students Ombudsman on 1300 362 072 or visit www.oso.gov.au to lodge a complaint.
Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)
Check the institution you wish to study with is registered to deliver the training at cricos.education.gov.au
Study in Australia
For information on studying and living in Australia visit www.studyinaustralia.gov.au
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
For any questions or information about your visa call 13 18 81 or visit www.border.gov.au
If you have been excluded from a university or TAFE course in NSW you have a number of ways to appeal the decision or make a complaint if you think the decision is unfair or wrong. All students have a right to an internal and external review. Call 02 9286 1000 or 1800 451 524 (outside Sydney) or visit www.ombo.nsw.gov.au for more information.
Before you sign up to a gym membership you should be aware of the following:
If you have a problem with a gym, check if it is a member of Fitness Australia at www.fitness.org.au or call 1300 211 311. If the gym is a member, Fitness Australia will help negotiate your dispute if you send it to them in writing.
If the gym is not a member of Fitness Australia or you cannot resolve the problem, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 for help and advice.
Chargeback is a refund facility available from credit card providers. It may be possible for you to request a chargeback from your credit card provider if:
A time limit may apply for the use of this facility. For further information regarding chargeback, contact your credit card provider.
A scam is a trick or a fraud when you pay money but get nothing back for it or you get something that is worth much less than the money you paid. Scams can be anywhere - in the mail, email, internet, in person or over the phone. There are many types of scams, here are some examples:
|IMPORTANT - Never send money or personal details to a person or business you do not know.|
Here are some tips to avoid scams:
If you have been the victim of a cybercrime, such as hacking, an online scam or fraud, identity theft, an attack on your computer system or if you are aware of illegal or prohibited online content, you can report it to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) on their website at www.acorn.gov.au ACORN will make sure your report goes to the right law enforcement or government agency for consideration.
You do not need to lose money to be able to report a scam. If you see or hear about a scam - report it.
If the scam originates from NSW or you know the name of the business or trader and they are located in NSW, you can report the scam to NSW Fair Trading online through Lodge a complaint or call 13 32 20.
If the scam originates from outside NSW or overseas you can report it to SCAMwatch at www.scamwatch.gov.au. SCAMwatch is a website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.
For information on scams, how they work, how to protect yourself from scams, report a scam and what to do if you have been scammed. Register with SCAMwatch to receive free email alerts on new scams.
Stay Smart Online Service
Australian Cybercrime Online Report Network (ACORN)
For information on cyber scams
A network of international government organisations, where you can report complaints about online and other related transactions with foreign companies.
Fair Trading has a range of online resources to assist you understand your consumer and renting rights while in NSW:
NSW Fair Trading welcomes your feedback. If you would like to comment or make a complaint about our services, you can download and complete a Customer feedback form available in 7 languages from the Feedback section of the Fair Trading website.
NSW Fair Trading is the state government agency responsible for protecting consumers' rights. We provide free assistance and information on shopping and renting rights. We can provide information to consumers about options to resolve disputes with traders and in some cases our staff can attempt to negotiate a settlement.
If you have problems with refunds, warranties, consumer guarantees, buying a car, renting, buying a house or scams call 13 32 20. You can also visit Service NSW at www.service.nsw.gov.au to obtain information and to find your local centre.
If you need language assistance, contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50 and ask for an interpreter in your language.
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