Know your rights when buying disability goods and services
The Australian Consumer Law provides protections to ensure you get what you pay for when buying goods and services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
When shopping around, you have the right to ask for what you want, take your time, ask questions, be treated fairly and receive accurate information.
When you buy products or services, they come with automatic consumer guarantees set out under the law.
When you buy products, the business guarantees products are safe, work correctly and meet promises made about the condition, performance and quality.
It’s similar when you pay for services. The business guarantees they will provide their services with acceptable care and skill. The business also guarantees the service will give the results as agreed. They also guarantee to carry out the service within a reasonable time.
If you pay for something and it doesn’t meet one of these consumer guarantees, you have the right to ask for a repair, replacement or refund. These rights apply regardless of whether you buy something in-store, online, at home or over the phone for your own use.
This includes general goods and services, disability related goods and services and items or services bought with the NDIS or state/territory government funding.
Australian Consumer Law regulators have produced guides to help consumers with disability understand their rights under the law.
Six ways to be a smart shopper
Before you buy something, do your research and make sure you are getting the best disability good or service for your needs. This is particularly important if you are buying something that you will use for a long time or something worth a lot of money.
Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:
1. Think carefully about the good or service and what you want it to do.
For example, if you are buying a new mobile phone, think about how you will most likely use it. Will you mostly make phone calls, send text messages or use the internet? Do you need large buttons, a touch screen or tactile keys? Do you need a hearing-aid compatible phone? Asking the right questions will help you decide what kind of phone you should buy.
2. Compare offers and choose what is right for you
Compare offers so you can choose what’s right for you. Take your time and don’t feel rushed.
For example, if you are buying a new wheelchair, are some cheaper than others? Is there after sales support? What are the differences in quality and features?
If you need help, talk to someone you trust, such as a family member, friend, community organisation, advocate or other support network.
3. Be aware that sometimes businesses make claims that are not true.
Sometimes a business or a salesperson may exaggerate the benefits of a good or service, or tell you that it does something it doesn’t do. If you think something doesn’t sound right, ask them if they can verify the claim.
For example, you might need to visit a store to replace your reading glasses. The salesperson may try to sell you more expensive glasses that ‘will make you see better than ever.’ You can ask them for evidence to back up this claim. You can also seek advice from a professional or your friends and family and come back later. Finally, you can just say ‘no’ and request the glasses best suited to your needs.
4. Find out as much as you can about the business selling you something.
Ask around, talk to other customers if you can, talk to your friends or support networks, search online and look at independent product reviews.
5. Don’t give your details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
Be careful with your personal information such as bank, tax file number and passport information. Sometimes people will try to trick you into giving them your personal information so they can steal your money.
6. Make sure you keep all the paperwork in a safe place where you can find it again.
If something goes wrong after your purchase, you might want to complain to the business. This means you have to prove you’ve made a purchase. Proof of purchase can be a receipt, a bank or credit card statement or some other form of proof. You have the right to ask for a receipt for anything you buy or pay for, no matter if you use your money, NDIS or state/government funding. Make sure you keep a copy of receipts, any warranties, and anything you sign.