FRIDAY, AUGUST 24: Consumer Affairs has no shortage of complaints from consumers about returning an item. Some stores do not give customers their money back and most have a limited time in which they will accept a return.
Unfortunately most consumers only find out about a store’s return policy after they have purchased an item and try to return it.
Returning something is not as simple as people think; there are a few things that consumers need to consider.
If the return policy is not posted, and the law does not require businesses to do so, ask what the return policy is — before you buy anything. If the sales clerk is unsure about the policy, ask to speak to a manager or someone who knows.
Keep the receipt and if necessary keep the original packaging. Some stores, especially those that sell electronics, require that you keep the packaging for a period of time.
Ask if there is a restocking fee. Some businesses charge a fee to restock a returned item.
Check the item before you buy it — look for damage, missing parts, poor quality etc.
Do some research first — you may find the same product somewhere else for less money and at a business with a more relaxed return policy.
Even if the business has a return policy, don’t assume that everything can be returned — some items, especially those that are seasonal or on sale, may not be returnable.
If you buy an item that is returnable, make sure you are aware of the time limit on the return.
Gift cards and gift certificates have expiry dates — find out what it is and tell the recipient. Keep the receipt and don’t forget to check the policy on lost or stolen gift cards.
Finally, if you are buying second hand items — buyer beware. This is an area that is full of risk. Do your homework. Get a receipt, write your own contract if you can, check everything thoroughly and don’t buy impulsively.
Remember. There’s no law that requires a store to give you a refund if you change your mind or it’s the wrong colour or size. At the end of the day the responsibility lies with the consumer – before you buy anything find out what the return policy is and if you don’t like the terms and conditions set out by a business, don’t purchase from them.
For more information on this topic, please visit the Consumer Affairs website, www.ca.gov.bm. Honey Adams is the education officer for the office of Consumer Affairs.