Definitions of Return Policies
Every time a sale is made there is an agreement between the buyer and the seller. Generally you, the buyer, agree to pay for the item, and you have a right to assume that the product is not defective and that its use has not been falsely advertised. A store is not obligated to accept items for refund, exchange, or credit except in cases where the item is defective or was misrepresented. Some stores have “no return” or “final sale” policies, and in some states, stores are required by law to disclose clearly what their return policies are.
In a product exchange, an item may be returned and another item of equal value may be received in its place. This privilege is usually extended when the buyer has made a reasonable mistake; for example, in the size or color of the product purchased.
Return for Credit
Often, customers may receive a credit slip after returning an item. This store credit allows the consumer to purchase any other item at that store which has the same monetary value as the item he or she has returned.
Some products have warranties that spell out what a manufacturer’s liability is if their product is defective. Reading a product’s warranty before returning an item to a store from which it was purchased is highly recommended. In some cases, warranties exempt stores from product liability and require consumers to mail the product to a manufacturer or other business in order to receive monetary refunds, credit, or product replacement.
Written contracts sometimes have special provisions for the return of goods. A contract usually provides its own conditions for return of the goods and cancellation of an agreement. Always read and understand a contract before you sign it; Never sign a blank contract; and Always keep a copy of the contract.
A customer’s money is returned under a refund policy. Stores that offer refunds as a policy do so voluntarily and, in most cases, are not compelled by state or federal law to do so. These policies usually require that products be returned to a store within a specific period of time and in original purchase condition. In almost every case, a sales slip or some other evidence that the item was actually purchased at a particular store is also required. If a customer does not have evidence of purchase, he or she may not receive a refund or may not receive the full amount of the purchase price. In some stores, all sales are final. This policy is typically enforced for goods, which are on sale, sold at the end of a season, used as floor models, or are of an intimate nature, such as undergarments and bathing suits.
In an effort to provide customers with better service, stores have opened the way for some individuals to abuse the specific return policies extended to all. Returning items without a legitimate excuse may cause the cost of all items in a store to increase for everyone. If these return abuses occur frequently, a store may tighten its return policies, impose restocking fees, or eliminate returns altogether.
Regardless of a store’s policy, if the goods you have purchased were misrepresented or are defective, you have every reason to expect the store to provide a suitable substitute or refund, or make proper repairs. The laws in all states require a store to make good in such cases.
Keep in mind that, in many areas, health regulations forbid returns of such items as hats, bathing suits, and other intimate apparel. Also, if you custom order a product, many stores charge a restocking fee for the return of such a product.
It is a good idea to keep the packaging an item was wrapped in just in case it is required for return by the store to the manufacturer. Finally, always save your receipt.
Honest mistakes over items that do not fit or match, or serve the purpose for which they were purchased, or are inappropriate gifts from a well-meaning spouse or friend do entitle you to the privilege of the store’s return policy – provided it has one. However, if you find that you are returning things very often, you might want to ask yourself whether you are depending on a store’s liberal return policy rather than your own good judgment in making purchases.