August 22, 2019

Gone are the glory days when you could return items hassle-free to your favourite stores. In our modern era peppered with con-people, theft and dishonesty, it’s not a surprise that shops are becoming stricter with their returns policy. Big W has now joined in this trend with recent changes, making their refund policy more stringent.

From mid-August 2019, Big W has announced that it won’t be accepting any returns, refunds or exchanges without a receipt.

Even though I was never really aware of official policy, I always assumed that I would only get a direct refund if I produced a receipt. However, I have, in the past, taken back unwanted gifts to larger stores like Kmart and Big W, without a receipt, and received a store credit or gift voucher of the same value.

However, it looks like most stores have cracked down on any kind of returns or exchanges without proof of purchase.

No Receipt! No Return!

Big W has said in a statement:

“BIG W will happily give customers a refund or exchange within 90 days of purchase, provided they have a proof of purchase and the product is still in its original and saleable condition (and packaging with all accessories included has not been worn or used) and if a perishable product, is not expired.

There are no returns on a personalised item, digital download, pre-paid card, voucher or clearance items.”

However, all is not lost for those keen to return unwanted gifts and a Big W spokesperson have assured customers saying:

“In the case of returning a gift, we are working on a gift receipt solution for customers that will be introduced in the near future.”

Kmart’s official policy, also insists that an original receipt is presented for an exchange or return and only allows a 28-day return policy, while Big W’s policy is very generous, offering 90 days to change your mind.

Thumb’s Up

Most customers are supportive of this new policy, posting in a Big W facebook group saying:

“The policy before was any Big W brand item ie clothing could be returned and exchanged without a receipt. Instead of refunds, gift cards were issued for the value of the items. The reason this is being changed now is because of the amount of people who are grabbing clothes from the racks and claiming they don’t fit but don’t have a receipt so therefore they got a gift card for the value so then went and bought other stuff with that card, which is a loss to Big W. As someone who works in returns at Big W, I saw this happen literally multiple times a day.”

“Good about time !!” and “lol yep that will teach the lazy and dodgy buggers”

“I’m surprised they haven’t done this sooner. It ruins it for people who actually do the right thing though.”

“What’s the big deal? The ones making a fuss are probably the same ones that never keep a receipt and complain when they don’t get their own way”

Thumb’s Down

Other shoppers were a bit perturbed about this new rule:
“What if it is a gift and you need to swap it for a bigger size? That kind of sucks.”

Don’t Blame The Staff

Staff are sure to cop some flack about this so one concerned poster has reminded everyone:

“Just remember it’s not the staff’s fault, they do not make the rules just paid to do as they are told by their manager so when you are told that they can’t refund or exchange your unreceipted item/s there’s no use in throwing a temper tantrum at them!”

Are you supportive of this new policy? Tell us in the comments below.

More On Mouths of Mums


  • Not sure if it is correct to do this would have to consult consumer affairs to check, but I always keep receipts anyway so won’t bother me. I think it is fair enough, people could be stealing and then taking them back to get money for drugs.


  • given big w facing some issues, its probably best not to make things so stringent. I imagine many wont even bother shopping there say over xmas when receipts get lost if they risk a no ability to return or change size


  • I like that places like bunnings text you the receipt


  • I recently bought an engagement gift at David Jones and was issued a gift receipt [no price on this receipt] along with my receipt for what I paid. This will allow the couple to return the gift if they wish to exchange it – I thought it a wonderful idea and am sure Big W will be able to do something like this too.


  • They should offer gift receipt so we attached them to the purchased item and then they can exchange it if they need to. How many times I asked for a gift receipt and they don’t provide any. How would you split the long receipt into many presents?


  • I always thought I needed a receipt to exchange or refund an item…I think it’s a good change and only fair to the company and consumers who do the right thing.

    • I agree. I thought this was everyone’s policy.
      My hubby bought me some very, very small underwear about 3 years ago which would have suited me at 16yo however I was more than double that age when receiving them. Thankfully he hadn’t removed the tags & kept the receipt. When I went to exchange them at Big W, the lady in the Customer Service area said they don’t normally allow returns on underwear even with a receipt but she said she could understand why I was returning them & let me exchange them for something more age appropriate.


  • I was shocked when a family member asked if they could exchange something (a LEGO set their son already had) and didn’t need the receipt. I always thought the receipt was the only way to get a refund or exchange.


  • I always assumed that you needed a receipt in order to return or exchange so they’s a surprise.


  • Yes this is something that had to be introduced due to some people.


  • I can see their point.


  • I can understand their point of view however I’d be concerned around christmas time when receipts are lost i the hustle and bustle of the festive season. Also any gifts that don’t fit are broken etc. Hopefully they will find a fair medium.


  • I think it’s logic they expect a receipt for the return of items.


  • Understand for refunds but you should be able to exchange for a different size especially for baby clothes.


  • I never knew this but it’s a good move for them


  • I always thought you had to produce the receipt. 90 days is good because if you buy something for somebody and don’t see them within 28 days you have longer to catch up with them, especially if they live in a country area. The only thing you should be able to return without a receipt is one of their products that is recalled. One large store you only get 14 days for returns.


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