Fair Go

Fair Go: Woman unable to return electric wheelchair as she'd opened the box

Online shopping means you can't really try before you buy, so many of us expect some sort of leeway and understanding from the business when we click and pay.

So how fair is it to advertise a 30-day money back option and then state that if you open the box, that option is void?

"If you haven't opened the box, how do you see what you've got?," Raema Stockman asks.

She paid more than $1400 for an electric wheelchair from

The chair advertised as lightweight proves to be 43kgs, too heavy for her to lift into her car. That weight has been mentioned in very small text at the very end of the listing.

Those limitations and conditions on the 30-day money back policy are there too, in a section that talks about the warranties offers.

Raema had seen none of that before purchasing the wheelchair and she wanted to change her mind about the purchase.

However, the law is clear; changing your mind isn't grounds for a return, a refund or a store credit.

However, a business cannot mislead, so if it offers a change-of-mind option it had better be clear what the rules are.

Raema reckons this offer is pretty misleading, and a bit tricky of Best Deals.

After all, this is an expensive purchase in a shipping carton, not a pair of pantyhose or a toothbrush, sealed for hygienic sale.

Fair Go checked and the Commerce Commission points out that the website does note the terms, so it has no legal issues with the sale. initially tells Fair Go what it tells Raema Stockman; it won't accept a return as the box has been opened.

It's hard to get ahead in these situations. Like many e-commerce sites, this one is owned and controlled ultimately by an offshore company.

There's no local office and the stock all comes from a 3PL - that's industry lingo for a third party logistics firm, a warehouse at the edge of the city that may be receiving, storing and shipping items for several different online sites.

Fair Go persists and tracks down one of the owners of the website, a director in a Hong-Kong listed company who's living in Australia, who explains there is some leeway after all.

"We're definitely fair people, so if you give us enough time we can definitely do some real things for you," says director Kenneth Chan.

The site also mentions a restocking fee of 20% and if one of the 3PL people can examine the goods on his behalf, he will consider a refund.

Happily for Raema, decides the restock fee will be $20 not 20%, and it refunds her $1380 within 48 hours of Fair Go delivering the wheelchair back to that warehouse.

Fair to say this is all much more detective work than most will have time or energy to do, so it pays to check reviews of the service or seller if you are using it for the first time and to read all the terms and conditions before you click buy.


More Stories