Tips for dealing with customer returns

All businesses should have clear procedures for dealing with customer returns and complaints, according to the ACCC.

WHEN customers come back with their unwanted Secret Santa gifts what should small businesses do?

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) businesses need to give a refund if a product does not meet one or more of the consumer guarantees (the basic set of rights which apply to goods businesses sell).

The ACCC small business team said in these situations, a business must provide a remedy (repair, replacement or refund).

“If the problem is major, the customer can choose the remedy they want or if it’s minor then you get to choose,’’ the small business team said.

The business cannot refer the customer to the manufacturer to fix the problem.

“If a customer guarantee hasn’t been met, you cannot refuse to help a customer with a problem caused by a manufacturing defect (however, you can seek reimbursement from the manufacturer in this instance).’’

But businesses do not have to give a refund if a customer simply changes their mind.

“Customer rights aren’t limitless so you’re not required to provide a remedy if the customer got what they asked for or simply changed their mind – such as poorly chosen Christmas gifts or a new outfit inspired by a NYE resolution that wasn’t achieved.’’

If a customer request a repair, replacement or refund a business can ask them to provide proof of purchase such as a receipt, tax invoice or credit card statement.

(Businesses must give customers a receipt whenever they sell anything over $75 and it’s also a good idea to encourage customers to take copies of receipts.)

The small business team said a business should have clear procedures on dealing with complaints.

“Remember that dealing with customers directly can be the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to resolve an issue before it becomes a big problem.

“It’s also important to think about your obligations and consider what is best for your businesses’ reputation.’’