Carrington woman blasts Big W over new returns policy

AUSTRALIA'S largest retailer, Woolworths, is under fire following the introduction of a controversial new refund policy at Big W.

Carrington resident Geraldine Adams was last week shocked to learn of the policy, which does not allow shoppers to return goods valued at more than $50.

Ms Adams bought two pairs of boots for her grandson from Big W at Jesmond for $129.88 and, after discovering they did not fit, attempted to return them the next day with the receipt.

When Ms Adams returned to the shop she was told she could not get a refund, exchange or store credit as each pair of boots cost $64.94.

Under the new national policy, introduced in late August, exchange and store credits are only allowed for purchases under $50, unless the product is faulty or does not match its advertised description.

"I explained that I was now stuck with two pairs of boots that were useless to me and then they produced a small photocopied brochure detailing the new returns policy," she said.

She was finally able to convince the manager to issue a store credit.

A spokesman for consumer association Choice, Christoper Zinn, described the new policy as "extraordinary" and said it was hard to believe.

"I have no doubt that this will make people think twice about shopping there," Mr Zinn said.

"If you believe in customer service, which is what retail is about, it shouldn't matter if the purchase is $5 or $500.

"There are many stores that have far more generous return policies."

A spokesman for Big W described the policy on Tuesday as going "above and beyond a customer's statutory rights" and "more generous than many stores who offer no refund at all on change of mind purchases".

"As the majority of Big W's products are priced below $50 this policy would cover most purchases," he said.

However, on Wednesday Big W announced it was reviewing the policy following "feedback from a number of customers".

The spokesman said the company would be relaunching an improved version of the policy in the "near future".

Ms Adams said she would no longer be shopping in Woolworths stores and urged other shoppers in the lead-up to Christmas to beware.