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Because return policies can vary from store to store, consumers often call our Office asking if a certain policy is legal. In Massachusetts, there is no set law about return policies. Some retailers have lifetime warranties and unlimited returns. Some companies may allow the purchaser to test a product for a time before returning it while others prohibit returns if the product appears used or worn in any way.

It’s important to read return policies and make sure you’re aware of any changes to the policy, especially if it’s a company you’ve done business with for years as the change may be unknown or unexpected. Some online retailers have started to ban customers for making too many returns. Other retailers are using algorithms or third party contractors to help monitor customers who are making returns.

Even if you are not abusing the return policy, consumers should be careful when making purchases and deciding whether or not to return an item. Use online reviews to help you make a decision, but keep in mind that they may not always be completely reliable.

Remember, as long as a product is not defective, a store can have any return policy they want so long as it is clearly disclosed and you have the chance to read it before buying your product. Defective merchandise must be accepted for return, regardless of any policy, and you must be given the option of a repair, replacement item, or refund of the price.

For more shopping tips, visit our consumer guide on our website.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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