Boutique stores testing the law on sale refunds

By Celeste Gorrell Anstiss

Scotties will replace faulty goods. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Scotties will replace faulty goods. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Some of the country's leading fashion boutiques are playing fast and loose with the law on replacing or refunding damaged goods.

Clothing store Superette, which has outlets in Ponsonby and Newmarket, was among those to post a website notice saying it would not refund items bought on sale.

"All sale purchases are final. Please choose carefully as no credits, refunds or exchanges can be made on sale goods," the notice says.

The Herald on Sunday called Superette anonymously to ask if the store would fix a broken zipper on an item bought at a discount.

The Consumer Guarantees Act obliges retailers to provide such a remedy for anyone who buys a product that is faulty.

But the woman answering the phone at Superette said: "We don't do that. Anything on sale is non-refundable, that's final."

The websites of Cybele and Scotties fashion boutiques, as well as Good as Gold jewellery shop, also said they would not issue refunds on sale items. But when we phoned the stores, staff confirmed they would comply with the law by refunding or replacing faulty goods.

Retail experts say bargain hunters should stand their ground if an item bought in the madness of the pre-Christmas or Boxing Day sales turns out to be faulty and the shops advertise such a no-refunds policy.

Ministry of Consumer Affairs spokesman Alastair Stewart said no-refunds policies breached the Consumer Guarantees Act.

"Consumers are entitled to a remedy if the item is faulty," he said.

Retailers had a legal responsibility to repair, replace or refund faulty products.

This includes electronics that don't last the distance, clothing zippers that break or toys that don't work - and it applies whether the item was bought at full price or at a discount.

"It is legal for a shop to say, 'choose carefully as we do not refund if you change your mind', but a sign that says 'no refunds or exchanges' is illegal," Stewart said.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said some retailers would try to wriggle out of their responsibilities on sale items but the only exception was when the sale item was a second and the fault was clearly labelled at the time of purchase.

- Herald on Sunday

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