Important information for sellers: consumer guarantees, returns and warranties
Sellers are required under Australian law to accept returns for goods purchased from a business and provide Australian consumers with a repair, replacement or refund if the goods:
Are faulty, or become faulty within a reasonable period of time after purchase
Are not fit for any purpose you stated or that the buyer made known to you (i.e. they don't do what you said they would do)
Don’t match your description or sample
Are of unacceptable quality, or
Fail to meet other mandatory consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law.
Where goods fall into one of the above categories, and the buyer has not caused or contributed to the failure (for example, by damaging or misusing the goods), a business must provide the buyer with:
A replacement or refund for a major failure, and compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage; or
A replacement or repair if the goods otherwise fail to be of acceptable quality.
You can ask a buyer for proof of purchase and may require that they return the faulty goods to you. You may be required to cover the costs of return postage.
Rights to return faulty goods under the Australian Consumer Law extend for a reasonable period of time after purchase, and there is no set time limit within which a buyer can return faulty goods.
Even though eBay provides the ability for sellers to state a time limit in their returns policies, any time limit included in a returns policy will not override a buyer’s rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
Time limits are only enforceable where you are offering the buyer a right that is in addition to their rights under the Australian Consumer Law. For example, you are not required to offer a refund if the buyer simply changes their mind or makes an incorrect choice, and if you do accept returns in these situations, you can specify that a time limit applies.
For more information about consumer guarantees and your responsibilities as a seller relating to repair, replacement or refunds, contact the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or visit the ACCC site.
A clear returns policy can reassure buyers
Even if you are not required by law to provide returns to your buyers for change of mind or incorrect choice purchases, there are other good reasons for doing so. eBay’s research shows that difficulty in returning items is the most common shopping barrier for buyers. So if you clearly spell out your returns policy in your listings you'll have an edge on the competition.
eBay’s research also shows that only a very small percentage of sold items are actually returned.
How to specify your returns policy
If you accept returns for change of mind or incorrect choice, in the Additional Information section of the Sell Your Item form, take the following steps:
Select the time limit within which the buyer must return the item to you
Select the type of remedy you offer (e.g. replacement or refund) if the item is returned
Enter all other details about your returns policy in the Return Policy Details text box.
Mention the details up front
Consider including details like the following to make your returns policy clear and complete:
Postage and handling charges: Clearly state who would pay for return postage and handling – you or the buyer – and if you will refund the original postage charges
Item condition: Clearly state the condition of the returned item that would be acceptable to you. For example, "unopened box" or "opened box with all original materials". Remember that this condition will not limit a buyer’s rights to return goods without intact packaging if they are defective or otherwise don’t comply with the Australian Consumer Law.
Custom settings for payment, postage & returns information
From May 2013, sellers can also opt in to a new way to create and manage their own custom settings for payment, postage and returns information. Known as ‘business policies’, these custom settings can be easily applied to listings and managed from one central location within My eBay.
To comply with Australian Consumer Law requirements that came into effect on 1 January 2012, sellers who offer goods with a warranty against defects must include the following in their warranty documents:
Information about how to make a claim (e.g. who to send the claim to and where/how)
Mandatory text to inform buyers that any rights under that warranty are in addition to any other rights they may have under Australian Law.
You can read more about these requirements on the ACCC site.
Sellers must ensure that goods they sell on eBay comply with Australian Consumer Law requirements. eBay reserves the right to take action where it has concerns that goods sold by a seller may not comply with the mandatory guarantees, or that returns policies and warranty claims may not be being honoured.
eBay encourages sellers to:
Review and update the warranty documents provided with your goods (working with your suppliers or manufacturers where necessary), including any information about warranties in your listings, to ensure they comply
Have in place processes for resolving warranty claims. It is important to be responsive to buyers and to provide them with a repair, replacement or refund where required.
Note: The above information is general in nature and is not intended to constitute legal advice. For advice specific to your circumstances, eBay recommends that you consult with a legal advisor.