Post Content

Despite your best intentions, some gifts you buy this holiday season may need to be returned or exchanged.  Before you head to check-out, make sure you carefully read each store’s return policy.

Return-1Massachusetts law requires merchants to disclose their refund, return, and cancellation policies before the transaction is completed.  A seller can have any type of return policy it wants.  “All sales final,” “merchandise credit only,” “full cash refunds within 30 days” – whatever it may be, the return policy must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed to the buyer.

Usually retailers place signs stating these policies near or at the cash register.  If a return policy is only listed on the sales receipt, that is not considered clear and conspicuous prior disclosure, as you only get a receipt after the sale is completed.  If you do not see these policies posted, ask the cashier or manager. 

Restrictions in return policies do not apply to defective goods, which cannot be used as intended (such as a toaster that will not toast or a television that does not get a picture). The store is required to give you the choice of a refund, repair or replacement.  A seller cannot misrepresent its refund, return, or cancellation policy, or fail to honor any promises about it. Specially-ordered merchandise may have additional restrictions.

Here are some tips to consider as you shop and before you make your purchase:

  1. Keep your receipts: To improve your chances of getting a full refund, make sure you get a sales slip or gift receipt.
  2. Open at your own risk: Return the item in new condition, unopened, and with all original packaging material. Some retailers charge a “restocking fee” on certain products if the box is opened before the item is returned, unless it is defective.  Many stores will not allow returns on opened items originally packaged in hard plastic or shrink-wrap.
  3. Speak up: If you have trouble returning an item with the cashier, ask for the store manager or customer service department.
  4. Avoid frequent returns: Some stores keep a “black list” of “serial returners,” and many retailers use proprietary software systems to monitor return behavior.  The system automatically instructs cashiers to reject returns when customers bring back items too often or for too much money.  If your return behavior gets you red-flagged, the company will send you a copy of your file if you ask for it. You can then check for mistakes and request corrections.

 

This post is part of our “Shopping 101” series, bringing you timely information as you shop this holiday season.  For more information on your shopping rights, click here.

Written By:

Recent Posts

How to Combat Illegal Robocalls posted on Jul 25

How to Combat Illegal Robocalls

Robocalls have become an all-too-common nuisance for consumers. Robocalls are unsolicited, pre-recorded phone calls, often scams, which are made to consumers without their permission, as opposed to calls solicited by the consumer, such as those from pharmacies and childrens’ schools. Robocalls are illegal in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 159C. While consumers can, and should, sign-up -for both the state and national Do-Not-Call lists, unfortunately this does not always stop many unscrupulous solicitors and scammers from making these calls.

Summary of the 2015 Consumer Federation of America Annual Consumer Complaint Survey posted on Jul 22

The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators recently released the results of the 2015 Consumer Complaint Survey. This report is based on consumer information, complaints, and suggestions for increased consumer protections from 33 consumer agencies in 21 states.

Do-Not-Call Consumer & Solicitor Responsibilities posted on Jul 20

Do-Not-Call Consumer & Solicitor Responsibilities

The Massachusetts Do-Not-Call Registry allows consumers to stop receiving certain telephone solicitations simply by signing-up and providing their telephone number. Established in 2003, the law requires telephone solicitors, list-brokers, and telemarketers to register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, subscribe to the Do-Not-Call Registry, and remove registered telephone numbers of consumers from their call lists.