Am I legally entitled to a refund?

Dear reader – no, wait. You have spent your money, and your time, on this book / blog, so I consider you a friend.

Dear friend, I feel the pain in your question and want to share a personal story with you to help answer it.

It is a story filled with heartbreak and tragedy, with loss and sorrow. It is a tale of a young boy who believed in a world that was good and fun and fair, and how that belief turned to tragedy and despair.

I loved once, with a love so pure and innocent that it would have caused an old widow to cast aside her funeral veil and go dancing in the street. My love, at the tender age of ten, was focussed on just one thing, known by two simple words.

Mouse Trap™.

As hard as it might be for the youth of today to comprehend, there was a time before PlayStations, Xbox, online porn, and sexting when kids had to make their own fun such as by playing physical board games. And Mouse Trap was widely considered (by me) to be the best board game. What made it so fantastic was that it came with all these pieces that you put together on the game board, to create the mouse trap that was the basis for the name of the game. Your player piece on the board was, of course, a mouse of a particular colour. The gimmick of the game, and what made it so special, was that your piece could become trapped in this mouse trap if you landed on a certain section of the game board, which meant you were immediately out of the game, and if you were playing by street rules, you were also out of your family or circle of friends.

For my tenth birthday, my kind and loving parents finally gave in to my desire to own my very own Mouse Trap set, and I still remember the joy of ripping open the wrapping paper to reveal the game within. I knew what it was the second they handed the gift to me, too, because all the pieces rattled around inside like they were applauding me for my unwrapping abilities.

Once the paper was out of the way, all I wanted to do was open the box and start playing. I already knew what colour mouse I would be (blue), and politely asked / demanded my parents play a game with me, despite it being seven o’clock on a weekday morning. Nothing else mattered to me at that moment, selfish little brat that I was. And still am.

Then came the heartbreak. Then came the darkness. Then came the loss of my childhood and everything I believed in.

For you see, friend, there was a piece missing from the box. And not just any piece. I think you already know where this is going, but please let me get this out in my own words. There was no trap. The red cage, designed to fall on your mouse and trap it just before you reached the finish line on the board, was not there.

My parents tried to return the set to the store, only to be told that there was nothing that could be done, as the list of parts on the box did not specifically say that a ‘red cage’ was included with the game. The parts list for the game only said things like ‘dice’, ‘mouse pieces’, and ‘trap pieces.’ The store denied my parents a refund on this basis, my parents were robbed of their hard-earned cash, and I was robbed of happiness forever after.

Why did I tell you all of this? Because I don’t want the same thing to happen to you or your parents, if you ever receive a faulty good. So, please, read on and let me guide you through how you can get a refund or replacement for faulty shit you buy or receive from a store. I do this for my parents. I do this for justice. I do this for you.

If you buy something from a store in Australia, whether in a physical store or online, you have the benefit of consumer protection laws. You are considered a ‘consumer’ and covered by these laws, if you buy (from an Australian retailer) any type of goods for a price of up to $40,000, or you buy goods that cost more than $40,000 where those goods are used for personal, domestic, or household use.

You are also covered under these consumer protection laws if you buy a vehicle that is used for transport purposes, such as a car, motorcycle, scooter (please don’t buy a scooter), or caravan, and there are no limits on their dollar value. So a Bugatti Veyron supercar is covered by these laws, as is a Vespa scooter (please DO NOT buy a scooter).

Finally, these laws cover new, second-hand, rented, leased, or hired goods.

Getting back to my horror story of the trap-less Mouse Trap. Consumer protection laws were much less useful back when I was ten years old, so my parents did not have the benefit of them when they tried to get a refund for my incomplete version of Mouse Trap. However, if the same thing happened today, my parents would be ‘consumers’, covered by these consumer protection laws, and so legally entitled to a refund or replacement.

You too can benefit from these consumer protection laws if any consumer good you purchase:

⁃ was not of acceptable quality and or fit for its intended purpose;

⁃ did not match the description of the product, or do what was advertised (this is why almost every food item that shows a picture of the food on the box says ‘serving suggestion’, to avoid any argument that what is in the box does not match what is advertised on the front of the box); or

⁃ was not fit for its intended purpose.

Any store that sells you goods that fail to meet these standards will, generally speaking, need to give a you either a refund or an exchange for the same or an equivalent good (that you agree to take) if you ask for it.

One issue that often leads to arguments in store is whether you are automatically entitled to a refund for a good that fails one of these consumer protection warranties. The short answer is ‘yes.’ The slightly longer answer is that if the fault is small or easily repaired, the store is entitled to the chance to repair or replace the product before it is legally required to offer you a refund. If it is a major issue with the good – LIKE A FUCKING MISSING MOUSE TRAP – then the store must issue you with a full refund if you ask for one.

Finally, stores cannot avoid giving you a refund simply by putting up a ‘no refund’ sign. While you are not legally entitled to a refund if you change your mind and no longer want the good, a ‘no refund’ sign is no help to the store if the good fails to meet one of the consumer protection warranties I mentioned above.

And, hey, if you happen to have a copy of Mouse Trap tucked away in a box somewhere and are up for a game, let me know. Like, immediately! Thank you, dear friend.