Take Some Hassle Out of Post-Holiday Returns with BBB Tips

December 13, 2013

As the holidayseason nears an end, many consumers head back to the stores, but this time notfor more purchases, for returns. There is no magical inherent right to a refundfor unwanted purchases. Every store has its own return policy and consumersshould understand the policy before expecting a full refund. Stores are notlegally required to accept items for refund, credit, or exchange unless themerchandise is defective or was misrepresented. However, stores must complywith their own stated return policy – which should be sufficiently conveyed tothe customer pre-purchase.

“Consumers shouldunderstand a store’s return policy before heading out to make a return,” saidNancy B Cahalen, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central NewEngland. “This may save consumers from the confusion of not getting back whatthey expected and they may reconsider whether a return is worth it.”

Whenin doubt, always ask the store about its specific policy beforehand:

  • Can you obtain a refund, store credit or exchange for unwanted merchandise?
  • What is the permissible time frame?
  • Does the merchant charge a restocking fee or “open box” fee for returns of electronics or other large-ticket items? Remember, original packaging may be required for a return and the regular policy may not apply to sale or clearance items.
  • Note when a product is labeled “as is.”
  • When shopping online, look for the site’s posted return policy, procedures and time frames before providing your payment information.
  • If you are a gift recipient, don’t assume that you have the right to return it; like the shopper, you are bound by the merchant’s return policy.
  • Keep in mind, health regulations can also prohibit the return of such items as hats and intimate apparel.

Learnyour rights before spending your money – not at the return counter.