David Lawrence, Jigsaw and Marcs have paid $19,000 in infringement notices following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) investigation into their refund policies.

According to the ACCC, from at least 1 August 2008 to 29 July 2010, the three fashion retailers stated on receipts and on in-store signs that they would not offer an exchange, refund or credit on sale goods.

Graeme Samuel, ACCC chairman, said in a statement that retailers cannot exclude a consumer’s right to refund or exchange simply because goods are bought on sale.

"There are a number of statutory warranties and conditions implied into every consumer contract which sellers of goods are unable to contract out of regardless of whether or not the item is on sale,” he said.

"No refund signs or notices of this nature may mislead consumers to believe that they have no right to a refund, exchange or credit on sale goods in any circumstances, which may be untrue because the consumer may be entitled to such remedies."

M Webster, the parent company of the fashion chains, has offered a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC to address the issues with its refund policies.

However, when contacted by Retailbiz, M Webster had no further comment to the issue.

In order to avoid further confusion in refund policies, from 1 January 2011, the statutory warranties and conditions will be replaced by a new consumer guarantees regime. 

"This is a timely reminder for all retail stores to review their refund or returns policies to ensure that the policies offered to consumers do not contravene the Act, particularly with the second phase of the Australian Consumer Law taking effect on New Year's Day," Samuel said.

In the undertaking accepted by the ACCC, Webster has agreed to ensure that all refund statements made in each of its stores comply with the Act and display corrective notices on its websites for 28 days. 

Further, Webster will send corrective notices by email to members of each brand's loyalty program and implement a trade practices law compliance program.