Recently, I have experienced the following sequence of events:
- I purchased an item from a major Australian retailer "A".
- I found the same item cheaper at a different retailer "B".
- Retailer A was unwilling to match retailer B's price. However, they do offer a no-questions-asked change-of-mind returns policy. As such, I placed an order with retailer B, and returned the original item to retailer A, who accepted the return and provided a full refund.
- The order with retailer B was cancelled on their end due to insufficient stock.
- I returned to retailer A to place a new order for the item (at their higher price). They accepted the order, charging a non-refundable deposit.
- Reviewing my bank statements, I discovered that the "refund" from retailer A actually resulted in a debit to my account, rather than a credit of the refunded amount.
- Retailer B found additional stock of the item, and honoured my original order with them.
As a result of this saga, I now have two copies of the item (one from B, and one on order from A at a higher price). I've essentially paid A three times for the one item, and I don't even need it anymore since I got it cheaper from B.
Who legally owns the item purchased in step 1? Since it was returned in expectation of monetary compensation, I'd argue that the transaction with retailer A in step 3 didn't actually transfer ownership back to them, since that compensation didn't occur. However, I imagine that they could argue they own the item, since they have physical possession of it and (as far as I know) their computer system shows the original transaction has been reversed.
The reason this is relevant is because I wish to cancel my order with retailer A without financial penalty, including a refund of the "non-refundable" deposit. I'd argue that the order was placed under the mistaken belief that I no longer owned the item purchased in step 1, and never would have been placed had I known I still owned the item. Since that mistaken belief was a result of their mistake processing the earlier return, I believe it is their responsibility to correct the situation with no financial detriment to myself.
I ask this question now, before having discussed the situation with retailer A. I fully expect them to completely refund the transactions of steps 1 (as originally agreed) and 3 (to correct their mistake), however I'd like to be able to mount a solid argument for requesting a full refund of the transaction in step 5.
Is my understanding of the situation correct? Am I likely to be able to argue my case as described above? Are such situations covered under Australian consumer law, or will I have to rely on good will on retailer A's part?
NOTE: I have receipts, invoices and bank statements attesting to each of the transactions involved, which I can provide to retailer A to prove my case if necessary.