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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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".
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.
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.