Consumer rights: Myths and facts

To avoid problems with consumer issues, it helps to get your facts right. Separate fact from fiction with the topics below.

Consumer guarantees


A consumer guarantee doesn’t have to be provided if there is a warranty.


  • Under Australian Consumer Law, consumer guarantees are given automatically. They provide consumers with a comprehensive set of rights for the goods and services they buy, lease or hire. Consumer guarantees cannot be revoked, replaced or waived by a seller or consumer.
  • Warranties are a separate and additional promise attached to a good or service. A manufacturer’s warranty is a voluntary promise made by a supplier or manufacturer about goods or services. An extended warranty is an additional warranty that can be purchased by a consumer. Warranties do not replace consumer guarantees.

Learn more about consumer guarantees, warranties and contracts.

Cooling-off period


'I'm always protected by a cooling-off period. That means I can change my mind and withdraw from the sale even though I have signed a contract.'


  • Cooling-off periods only apply to a limited number of transactions including:
  • In all cases, specific conditions apply and you need to make sure you understand your rights before signing any contract, even if a cooling-off period is available.
  • With most contracts, you can't rely on a cooling-off period.  Know your rights before you sign.

Customer rights


'The customer is always right.'


Customers sometimes do get it wrong but well-informed consumers have a far better chance of successfully asserting their rights.

Learn more about your consumer rights on our website and look out for the ‘Be a savvy consumer’ sections at the bottom of our pages for tips to improve your consumer knowledge and habits.



'I've changed my mind, but I can still get my deposit back.'


  • It depends. When you place a deposit on an item (and sign a statement confirming your deposit), you enter a contract. This means you could be entering into a binding agreement to proceed with the transaction.
  • A deposit compensates the business for the time and expense devoted to the transaction. If you change your mind, the business may be entitled to keep all or part of your deposit. The actual amount the business is allowed to keep depends on the circumstances. It should not be so high as to constitute a penalty.
  • Many businesses will return your deposit as a gesture of goodwill, but this is not guaranteed.

Find out more about contracts.

Original packaging


'I must keep the original product packaging and return it to the supplier if something goes wrong with the product.'


  • You are not required to return the goods to the supplier in the original packaging.
  • However, you usually need to have proof of the transaction (eg cash register or credit card receipt).

See Repairs, replacements and refunds and Guarantees, contracts and warranties for more information



'They’ve got to sell it to me at the lowest marked price.'


  • Not necessarily. When an item is marked with two prices, it is illegal for the retailer to sell you the item at the higher price but in some cases, the retailer can withdraw the item from sale.
  • Beware of bait advertising where businesses entice customers into their stores by advertising goods at very low prices but don't have the sale items in stock. Businesses must ensure that reasonable supplies of the products are available during sales.

See pricing and misleading claims and conduct in advertising to learn more.

Remedy for a problem


'The consumer can always choose the remedy if there is a problem with a good or service.'


  • It depends on whether the problem is minor or major.
  • For minor problems with goods or services, the business chooses the remedy.
  • For major problems with goods or services, you, the consumer chooses the remedy.

See Repairs, replacements and refunds for more information.

Supermarket scanners


'If a supermarket scanner scans an item at a price higher than the displayed shelf price, I can get that item free of charge.'


  • There is no mandatory code enforcing this practice, so it varies from store to store.
  • Some supermarkets follow the voluntary scanning code of practice issued by Master Grocers Australia, while others have developed their own policies.
  • Check online to see if your supermarket follows a code of practice.

Be a savvy consumer

When you understand your consumer rights you can avoid costly mistakes.

Before you buy

  • Think about what you want the product to do.
  • Shop around and compare quality and price.
  • Take your time and avoid impulse shopping.
  • Ensure toys you buy for children are appropriate and safe for their age.
  • Remember, interest-free deals are not cost-free – you generally have to pay ongoing fees.
  • If you’re buying products from overseas, check if the manufacturer has service arrangements in Australia, you don’t want to get stuck with a faulty product and no-one local to fix it.

Making the purchase

  • Check the seller’s refund policy.
  • Beware of scams.
  • Check you are buying from a legitimate business.
  • Think twice before paying a deposit – the business may keep all or part of it if you change your mind.
  • Read any document you are asked to sign and if you don't understand it, don't sign it.
  • Ask for a receipt if you don’t get one.

After the purchase

  • If you paid by credit card, check your statement carefully and make sure only the things you bought have been charged to you.
  • Keep any documentation given to you at the time of purchase (including receipts, manufacturer's instructions and warranty details). This information may provide some extra protection against manufacturing faults.

Further information

Contact us

Call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.

Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?

The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.

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