Shoppers now have a new tool to help them with refunds, lay-bys and warranties.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released an app for both Apple’s iOS and Android operating systems, that allows consumers to store copies of their receipts, set reminders, provide instant advice and generally take the worry out of shopping this Christmas.

“Simple disputes over returns, refunds or replacements often leave shoppers bewildered and confused about their rights. The ACCC Shopper app will help take the worry out of Christmas shopping,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

The app allows users to store photos of their receipts as proof of purchase on their smartphone or tablet at the point of sale.

Ms Rickard added that Australian Consumer Law provides stronger protections against faulty products, often allowing for repairs, replacements or refunds outside of a manufacturer or retailer’s warranty period. But a word of warning – don’t expect that to protect you against offshore purchases.

The app also explains what consumers rights are and the steps to take when enforcing those rights, as well as a ‘My Items’ feature which allows users to set reminders for when lay-bys are due and expiry dates for warranties and gift vouchers.

It sounds like a handy app, especially when shoppers need to get refunds or replacements for those unwanted or faulty Christmas presents. According to the ACCC, retailers, including Big W – owned by Woolworths (ASX: WOW), Target and K-Mart – owned by Wesfarmers (ASX: WES), will take a photo of a receipt as proof of purchase.

The Foolish bottom line

I can see some issues already. For instance, I’m not sure how I’m going to take a photo of my monthly shopping receipt – it’s about two feet long. What if the photo of the receipt is illegible, blurry or impossible to read – what do retailers do then?

Still, I have to commend the ACCC. This app is a step in the right direction and the more help shoppers can get, the better it will be not just for them, but retailers as well.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Woolworths. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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