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Mail order 

Advertisements and catalogues can make products appear better than they actually are and buyers have often complained the goods purchased by mail are not what they expected.

When shopping by mail you should consider the following:

  • Does the business have a full street address with contact details?
  • Is the price really lower than what a regular store would charge?
  • What do the postage and packaging add to the price?
  • Is it possible to return the goods and receive a refund?
  • Is it possible to inspect the goods before buying them?
  • Do the goods come with a warranty?

Your rights  

Items bought through a catalogue or by mail are subject to the same laws as other consumer goods and services. However, there is limited consumer protection in a global shopping environment.

Traders must honour any claims they make about their goods or services. When you place an order, you enter into a legally binding contract. This means that the company must send you what you ordered and you must pay for the goods. Goods must, as a minimum standard:

  • be of ‘merchantable quality’, that is, meet the basic level of quality and performance
  • match any description or sample
  • suit the particular purpose for which they were described.

Most companies are reasonable and keen to see their customers satisfied. However, if you have a problem and contacting the trader doesn’t work, call 13 32 20 or visit your local Fair Trading Centre to find out your options.

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If the goods are damaged or never arrive 

If the goods never arrive, it is the trader’s responsibility to trace them, replace them or give you a refund. By law, you are entitled to your money back because the contract was never completed. This can become a case of their word against yours if the trader can prove that they sent the goods.

If the goods are damaged in transit, the trader may be responsible. For a minimal fee, Australia Post offers insurance to cover damage to goods.

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Getting off the mailing list  

To stop a particular company sending you unsolicited mail, write and ask them to remove you from their list. If you prefer not to have any personalised direct mail sent to you at all, contact the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) on 9277 5400. They will add your name to a database of deletions that is distributed to their members on a regular basis.

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