F1RST Duty Free Shop @ Mel Airport - Massive Ripoff & Deny Refund. What to Do?

Hi Ozbargainers,

I hope you are all having a wonderful Easter break, or at least better than mine so far. I have had a terrible shopping experience last night at F1RST Tax & Duty Free shop(F1RST) at Melbourne airport last night, Easter Friday, and I am still clenching my teeth now. I hope you guys can help me with this.

Here is the story.

I am traveling overseas to visit my parents. My mom wants an iPad at the last minutes. Due to the low Aussie dollars, it is cheaper to buy one here than in my destination country. Being time constrained, I thought iPads are pretty much the same price everywhere, and thus decided to buy it at the airport. There is also an added benefit of not queening up at the GST refund counters, which could take a long time based on the past experiences.

Last night after pass the immigration, I went straight to the F1RST shop, and bought a 64gb wifi-only iPad Air 2 at $753 without even thinking of the price (spoiler alert huge mistake). While waiting at the gate, I checked the Apple Australia website out of my sheer boredom. Shockingly, the same model iPad is only selling for $729, including $67 GST. So I have paid whopping $91 extra for it! What a ripoff! Being an Ozbargainer, this is absolutely unacceptable. At this price point, I rather buy it at my destination with a decent cover thrown in.

So I walked back to the store, and ask the sales person nicely for the price difference or a refund. The sales person went to check with the manager. Shortly after, the manager came out, and said to me “no refund possible”. How come?! The iPad is unopened and I just bought it 10min ago. I started to argue with him politely but firmly, and he became extremely rude to me. At one point, the sale person even said to the manager “he (meaning me) has a point…”. Then the manager gave her a death stare, and said “shut up” to him. Being very frustrated, I started to video the conversation, and recorded him saying “after the purchase, we don’t give refund whatsoever. This is our policy, and it complies with Australian laws”. Then he threatened to call the police and walked away, leaving me there with no person would even speak to me.

They knew all along that I cannot wait forever. After another couple of attempts, they just played the silence game. At that time, my flight is boarding, and I got no options but to board the flight.

Conclusions from the story.

As you can see, I was extremely angry and upset after this, and believe that the manager’s action at F1RST is absolutely disgraceful. Here are what I see the problems.

  1. How can they set the ripoff price, and pretend it is the “normal” price? I understand that the seller, in theory, can set whatever price they want, and I am NOT forced to shop with them. But the price for an iPad is very transparent, and I am not aware of any resellers, being JB, HN, etc., are charging more than what Apple is charging. So it is at least very unethical for F1RST, who is ripping off tourists and the likes. It is supposed to be normal prices without GST, and yet it is more expensive even with GST!

  2. Surely their “no refund possible” policy is against the Australian consumer laws, right? Any half decent shop in this country would give a refund in this situation. It is also called Common Sense. Maybe being outside of custom, F1RST is technically not in Australia? So the Australian laws don’t apply to them? I highly doubt it.

  3. F1RST staff acts very passively and rude to their customers, while fully aware that the customers have flights to catch, and won’t argue forever. Also, once the customers are gone, the chances are that they are not coming back. This sets a really bad example for Australian business, a lot of which are depending on foreign tourists. There must be hundreds of people got ripped off knowingly or not every day.

I would like to know your opinions on this.

Potential solutions

Obviously, I won’t just leave this matter as it is. So, with limited experiences, I come up with some options I may be able to pursue.

  1. Upon returning, try to get a refund at the returning side of the duty free shop. Given what happened, I don’t think it will work, but I will try anyway.

  2. Call/write to F1RST to complain this matter, and hopefully get a refund and maybe an apology. I really doubt they will resolve the issue to my satisfaction (my bottom line is a full refund). Again I will try anyway.

  3. Lodge a complaint with ACCC. I haven’t done this before, and hope your guys could give me some advice. Also what should I expect from ACCC? Will they side with me, and force them to give me refund?

  4. Call/write to the media, like current affair or something. I don’t think this will work. But I got the video and the manager’s name on record. At least, it would be an interesting story? Again no experience here.

  5. Write to Apple Australia, and tell them one of their reseller is conducting some very unethical behaviours, which may damage Apple’s reputation. I know this is a long shot, but it doesn’t hurt to try, right?

  6. Do nothing and suck it up. Deep breath…. It is only some dollars at the end, so…

Thank you all very much for reading my post (rant). I really appreciate your valuable advice.

Finally, be careful with the duty free shops! Always check the prices before purchasing.

BTW, I understand the RRP is, at the end of the day, just Recommended Retail Price. So please be gentle to me regarding to "no one force you to buy there".

Edit 1

Being so used to the store policies, like Bunnings, DJ, etc., I guess I might be confused by what a store should be doing legally. I have to admit I am still angry with this whole thing. So my bad.

Edit 2

Thanks everyone for replying. I was angry when posting, and now it all make sense. I made a bad choice, and learnt my lesson.

altomic raised a good point about the price guarantee from the CC. I searched for my ANZ card, and found this.

Best Price Guarantee Scheme - if you purchase personal goods in Australia and then find the same product advertised later in a printed catalogue at a cheaper price within 21 days of purchase, from a store within 25km of the store where the item was purchased, you can claim back the difference if it is more than $75 and less than $300.

I guess this would be very easy to approve. Any major electronic stores would sell an iPad at RRP. But I dont know whether the GST counts. I paid $753 without GST, and RRP is $729 with GST. So the difference could be less than $75.I will try anyway.

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  • +31 votes

    They don't have to legally refund you as its a change of mind. The manager may mean no refund possible for this circumstance. Unless they have a sign saying no refund no matter what, doubt ACCC will do anything.

    As you said, it is recommended retail price, retailers can sell it higher if they wish, it's your responsibility as a consumer to do your research to endure you're happy with the price before handing money over. They can sell it for $1000000 if they want, though stupid.

    You've been an member for less than a day, hardly an ozbargainer

    Any half decent shop in this country would give a refund in this situation.

    Only big stores and out of good will, not because you're entitled to it.

    • Good points. Thank you. I guess I am still angry while posting this,and not sure what a customer is entitled to. I might just have to suck it up…

  • +19 votes

    Being an Ozbargainer,

    and not googling the price!?! this is absolutely unacceptable.

    I understand how you feel. I bought a dominos pizza last week and used coupon X. when I got home I noticed coupon Y which would have saved me a further 50cents.

    Maybe change the title from "F1RST Duty Free Shop @ Mel Airport - Massive Ripoff & Deny Refund. What to Do?" to "I made an uninformed decision whilst buying an iPad and now regret it"

    • It is totally my bad of not doing my due diligence.

      Unlike a pizza, or a TV, for which the RRP usually doesnt mean much. An ipad is normally the same price everywhere, right?

      • But somewhere like an airport is a place where price gouging is commonplace, purely out of supply & demand. If someone has left it till then to purchase anything, they'll pay RRP and just deal with it (or in this case, pay over RRP!). I'm sure many of the stores there are charging more than RRP, besides maybe the book stores where RRP is printed on the book/magazine. It's just the situation where people almost have to pay the marked price, coz where else are they gonna go?!

        • I didnt realise the price until too late. It makes sense now to think it is an airport after all.

        • Mel airport takes cut off all sale from all outlets I know that happen in Brisbane airport most like why it RRP


        ipad prices aren't set, they do vary.

        E.G. look at Kogans current 20% off ebay sale

        Apple iPad Air 2 64GB Wi-Fi Silver iPads was AU $742.99 with 20% discount = $593.60

      • why would an ipad be the same everywhere? Why would an RRP for a TV not mean much but it should for an iPad?

        If a manufacturer tries to enforce an RRP, that would be an ACCC matter for investigation. Kogan tends to sell iPads below RRP. If a retailer chooses to sell it above RRP, caveat emptor.

        They were well within their rights to deny you the refund.

      • An ipad is normally the same price everywhere, right?

        Evidently not.

    • hahahah that happen to me the other week ago. got 2 pizza and used the wrong coupon could of save $2 (damn 1 extra topping). Suck it up like a man, act the 2 pizza, and had a good shit

  • Why on earth would you think you were entitled to a refund?
    There is no right to a refund for:
    1. Change of mind
    2. Paying more than you might have found it somewhere else.
    You see, there is this thing called 'commerce' where stores sell goods for the best price they believe people will pay. Turns out in your case they set the price appropriately.
    You've learned a valuable lesson for a relatively cheap price. Remember it and move on.

    • Yeah most places like DJs and Myer allow a refund for any reason under the sun to maintain customer goodwill, but try doing a change of mind refund at Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, JB Hifi (franchises) and you will definitely not be allowed. Most smaller stores act in this manner.

      Something that costs >$100 should require at least 1 min of smart phone research.

      • I thought it would be "common sense" to get a refund in most the stores, like DJs and Myer. Well, I am wrong…

        Definitely smart phone next time.

    • A lesson learnt indeed. So yeah… move on…

  • On the F1RST Duty Free Shop website shows APPLE IPAD MINI 4 WI-FI 128GB for $753.00. (The only Apple item for $753)
    Are you sure that you haven't purchased that ?
    Or the shop charged you that instead ?

    So now, Mum has missed out on her iPad ?

    • Their website is confusing to say the least.
      I am 100% sure I got the Air2 64gb wifi. So I dont know what exactly going on with the price. Maybe they just charge whatever they want…

      Mum will get the iPad. Base on the reply here, I just need to suck it up…

  • +4 votes

    Unfortunatly they don't actually have to refund you for change of mind, some store like apple have change of mind built into they refund policy but it's totally up to the stores discretion. The best you could hope for would be a store credit if you could put that towards something else (which probably isn't very helpful).

    • thanks. I guess I should have known better. I thought it was common sense to refund something straight away.

      • Look, it's an easy mistake to make and clearly they ae just taking advantage of the situation. I'm sure if it were any other shop you would have gotten your refund but the fact that it was a shop in the air port that probably doesn't have return customer didn't help.
        At least it was an iPad not an iMac..

  • Lodge a complaint with ACCC. I haven’t done this before, and hope your guys could give me some advice. Also what should I expect from ACCC? Will they side with me, and force them to give me refund?

    Nope. They won't side with you.

    Repair, replacement or refund
    You can ask a business for your preference of a free repair, replacement or refund, but you are not always entitled to one. For example, the consumer guarantees do not apply if you got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase or had no use for it.

    From: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees...

    • Thanks for the link. A lesson learnt for me indeed. I think I was very angry when posting. Now it all makes sense.

  • +9 votes

    Did you buy it with a credit card that has price protection?

    • Yes, I did pay by CC. Thanks! That is an interesting point. I have never done this before. I thought the price need to be dropped in the same store, or just anywhere else also apply?
      I will start reading up the T&Cs of my CC.


        quickly check it out, as the Kogan sale finishes tonight. if you could get a screen dump of that or something (I don't know what your CC T&C's are - e.g. might not apply to grey imports) then you might be able to price match that.

        • Best Price Guarantee Scheme7 - if you purchase personal goods in Australia and then find the same product advertised later in a printed catalogue at a cheaper price within 21 days of purchase, from a store within 25km of the store where the item was purchased, you can claim back the difference if it is more than $75 and less than $300.

          this is from my ANZ CC website. I dont think grey imports would count, as I wont be able to get a printed catalogue. Also the GST may make the difference less than $75.

          But you have provided a really good idea. I will try it.

        • @Donkeyface: You could potentially price match against Officeworks if there's a store within 25km? Price difference is more than $75 as stated, and as far as I know OW is the cheapest Audtralian stock these days.

          Good luck!

        • @jackary:
          Thanks. I will try to find it out!

    • you need proved that a store is nearby that is selling same item advertised

    • That's not how price protection works.

  • That is reason I don't buy goods from airport, especially electronics. Duty free doesn't mean they are selling it for cheap.

  • Smartphones were meant to stop tourists falling into these traps… unfortunately as seen in this thread, airport duty free shops are still quite an effective intelligence test.

  • you also took a video of the employee without their consent for doing their job…….

  • From what I understand, Apple just recently lowered the price of the iPad Air 2 by 100 USD, so could be that the store had not yet updated the pricing. I'm not sure they would charge more than Apple is even selling it for, if it's duty free.

  • You may have been entitled to a refund under the iOS Software License Agreement. Which you need to accept before using the device.

    More specifically, this part:


  • Lost respect for OP after he started recording videos.

  • A business can charge whatever they want for goods. They could charge $10,000 if they wanted to. If it's up to you as a consumer to do your research beforehand.

  • You could have made that $91 difference in the time it took you to write up this wall of text.

  • I believe airport airsides zones (usually where duty frees are located) are usually security restrricted zones so don't know if the whole video taping thing works in your favor when you are seeking legal avenues (ACCC) to solve your problem.

  • How would you even return it (if you needed to) if duty free is past customs?

  • If you used Mastercard of Visa, I'm pretty sure some cards have a "Price protection" Scheme. Go for that and claim your $91 dollars back.

    I know ANZ platinum has it.
    ANZ T&Cs

  • +2 votes

    To be fair, the price for the iPad air 2 64gb was $829 on the apple site a week ago. It only dropped down to $729 after the apple event with the reveal of the iPad pro 9.7".

    Also, look on the bright side. You got it cheaper than if you were to purchase it at your destination country.

    • This is what I was thinking…

      I'd write a polite email to F1RST duty free giving screenshots from google archive and the current price explaining that the price did in fact drop.

      Explain that you are disappointed that the store failed to update their prices and while you do understand refunds aren't normally given you would appreciate it if they considered refunding you the difference on this occasion.

      I just checked and the 16GB iPad air 2 Cellular space grey - https://www.firstdutyfree.com.au/category/technology/ipads-a...


      Is $781.00 from First duty free.

      To buy it from Apple it is $759.

      DaFaq? Yeah they can charge what they want but this is seriously stupid…

      I've got screenshots of this so let me know if you need them.

  • my golden rule is "never by from Airport duty free" unless i am 100% sure it's cheap , most cases they are 20% - 30% expensive.

    • My platinum rules are too never type by when I mean buy and always start sentences with a capital letter.

      I also randomly throw commas into sentences.

      • My platinum rules are too to never type "by" when I mean "buy" and always start sentences with a capital letter.

        Fixed for you. Can't have a grammar Nazi making grammatical errors now can we?

        • Haha. I'm not really a grammar Nazi and make more than my fair share of errors and typing mistakes.

          I think it's hard to treat advice as credible when the person doesn't even start their sentence with a capital letter.

      • Time for new keyboard & reading glasses :)