Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne Inc. Refunds Policy

1. Background
Refunds arise in the context of receipts and fees/charges obtained under contract. Inflows not received under contract, eg donations and grants are not eligible for refund in the same context and are not considered here.
The Friends receive moneys for the sale of goods or for the provision of services. Goods sold include calendars, cards and plants. Services sold include membership subscriptions, fees for attendance at talks, excursions and social events such as parties or dinners, tuition fees for botanical art classes and workshops, and fees received in other ways such as the sale of raffle tickets.
2.1 Sale of Goods – Rights and Obligations
The issue of refunds for the sale of goods is well covered in advice publicised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Department of Consumer Affairs in Victoria. 
Under the Trade Practices Act for example, purchasers may seek a refund if goods:
  • are or become faulty through no fault of the purchaser;
  • are not fit for a stated purpose or a purpose made known by the purchaser to sales staff;
  • don’t match the description or sample; or
  • have defects that were not obvious or were not brought to the purchaser’s attention.
There are also requirements as to proof of purchase, complaining within a reasonable time, and for the seller, there is an option to repair, reinstate or refund or provide a store credit, at the purchaser’s discretion.
The advice provided by other consumer affairs regulators is based on the same general legal principles.   
2.2 Refund policy for Sale of Goods
2.2.1 No refunds are provided in the ordinary course of business;
2.2.2 Faulty goods, except botanical art works may be returned to the Friends for up to fourteen days from the date of purchase, with proof of purchase, and the Friends may either replace the item or refund the purchase price at their discretion.
3.1 Sale of Services – Rights and Obligations
A useful reference regarding rights and obligations in relation to services is on the ACCC website and reads as follows:
“If you are providing a service you are obliged to carry it out with due skill and care. You must also make sure that any materials you provide as part of this service are fit for the purpose.
“If you fail to meet any of these obligations, the consumer has the right to have the service repeated, or can seek payment for the cost of having it supplied again by someone else. If you have not provided a service with due skill and care or if the material you have supplied as part of the service is not fit for the purpose, then the consumer may also be entitled to claim compensation for expenses they have incurred as a result, such as loss or damage.”
Clearly the elements of skill and care attaching to the delivery of a service make it more difficult to define what the purchaser is purchasing, and hence, more difficult to define the conditions under which the contract has not been fulfilled, and a refund is justified.
3.2 Refund policy for subscriptions
3.2.1 Membership Subscriptions will not be eligible for refund except in exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Friends’ Secretary. 
The criteria for refund apply to all membership categories, and, as far as could be ascertained, seem to be in line with the policies of similar organizations to the Friends. The underlying rationale is that subscriptions are generally not large in dollar terms, and would be of limited significance for virtually all members’ budgets. Also, the need to counteract impulse buying is not considered to be of major relevance in this case – no “cooling off” period would seem to be warranted for example, in contrast to the purchase of a house at auction. Nevertheless, if exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated, the Friends might refund the whole or part of a subscription, at their discretion, and without prejudice. No deduction for administrative costs has been suggested, based on the judgment that refunds for exceptional circumstances will be very few in number.
3.3 Refund policy for cancellation of enrolment in botanical art and Plant Craft Cottage classes and workshops
3.3.1 Cancelled enrolments will be eligible for a refund of fully paid fees only if cancellation is made before commencement of term, on the following scale, and subject to the deduction of an Administration Fee of $25.
Cancellation before start of termFee refunded
By 20 working days and more100%
By 15 to 19 working days50%
By 14 working days or lessNo refund
3.3.2 Enrolments cancelled after commencement of term will not be eligible for refund of fees other than in exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the Friends.
3.3.3 Missed classes may not be made up except in exceptional circumstances.
3.3.4 Students enrolled in a class may defer their enrolment for one term upon payment of the term’s fees in advance. In the event that the place is not taken up, a cancellation fee as stated above will apply.
3.3.5 The refund conditions are to be clearly stated on the enrolment application.
3.4 Refund policy for events
3.4.1 Where the Friends cancel events, attendance fees will be refunded promptly. If events are rescheduled within a reasonable time, ticket holders will be given a refund. 
3.4.2 Where purchaser is unable to attend an event.
Event categoryResponseNotice period
Talks and minor activities
(up to $25)
No Refund14 days notice
Dinners, Cocktail parties, Opening Nights ($26-$49)Refund14 days notice*
All Events ($50 upwards)Refund$25 Admin Fee per ticket14 days notice

(*) At the discretion of the Friends

20 August 2018