The state’s consumer watchdog is encouraging consumers to know their rights, particularly those shopping online, with information and handy tips ahead of World Consumer Rights Day on Wednesday 15 March.
Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria Simon Cohen said, “My office will be celebrating World Consumer Rights Day along with other national consumer regulators to raise awareness about consumer rights in the global marketplace.”
This year’s theme is 'Building a digital world consumers can trust' and reflects the ever-increasing trend of shopping for products and services online.
The theme is timely, with one recent survey from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), finding that only 63% of consumers believed that they have the same rights purchasing online as they did from a physical store.
Despite the rapidly changing landscape of global markets through digital technology, an Australian consumer’s rights have not changed. The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) provides the legal rights for consumers and the law applies to traders who are operating in the Australian market regardless if they are based in Australia or overseas.
“Our consumer rights are law in Australia, but the global marketplace and digital technology present a number of challenges for regulators and consumers alike, so education and awareness of the issues is essential,” Mr Cohen said.
“Despite the legal protections offered under the ACL, it may become difficult to exercise your rights with an overseas trader if they choose to not communicate with you as a customer."
When shopping online, consumers should:
- do their research – read online reviews and blogs about an online businesses and find out what others are saying about them
- carefully read the seller’s refunds and returns policy
- check that the site is secure – for example, look for a locked padlock or key symbol at the bottom of your browser window.
The proliferation of online transactions also exposes consumers and businesses to scam operators. Help avoid getting scammed online by:
- not opening suspicious emails
- not sending any financial or personal information to people or organisations you do not know or trust
- updating your online passwords regularly.
For more information on how to shop safely online, see our Online shopping safety tips page.