Educational Consumer Tips

Online Purchases-Returning Merchandise

Author: Better Business Bureau

The following comments provide general information for consumers, and do not necessarily reflect the practices or record of any particular company.

Merchants should 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.

Find out where to return the merchandise. If the company's policy is not posted, call or send an e-mail to request specifics. 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.

Companies that have web-only businesses typically charge 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.

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 persistant. If the merchant ignores your requests or communications, file a complaint on line with the BBB.

(also see "Unsolicited Mail, Telemarketing and EMail: Where to go to Just Say No" general Advice report)

These are some helpful tips from your Better Business Bureau.