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Council of Better Business Bureaus ®
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Council of Better Business Bureaus
Returning Merchandise Purchased Online
July 02, 2010
Purchasing a product online may be simple, easy and convenient, but some shoppers encounter problems when returning items purchased on the Web. The BBB Code of Online Business Practices advises merchants to clearly disclose their return or refund policies on their Web site including how customers can make returns or exchanges; obtain refunds or credits; or cancel a transaction; and any associated time limitations or fees.

If such information is not posted, the BBB advises:

  • Find out which location to return the merchandise. Does it go back to a mailing address or can you return it to a retail store? If the company’s return policy is not listed on the site, call or send an e-mail to request specifics.
  • Don’t delay. Many sites have time limits for returns. Notify the company by e-mail to let them know that a return is on the way. Put the time and date in the body of your e-mail message and type “return” or “exchange” in the subject line of your e-mail. Print or save the e-mail message and any responses you may receive.
  • Expect to pay some fees. Companies that have web-only businesses typically charge customers a restocking fee or shipping and handling fee on returned merchandise. If you’re a long-time customer or purchased the item using the merchant’s credit card, mention that fact and ask for a waiver of the fees.
  • Keep the original packaging. If you know you don’t want the gift, don’t open the box or break the manufacturer’s seal. If you have already opened the box, make sure you return all parts and packaging materials in the original box.
  • Be patient, but persistent. If the merchant ignores your requests or communications, file a complaint online with the BBB.