Tips on Returns and Exchanges Before You Purchase an Item

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By Better Business Bureau

This holiday season, BBB wants to remind consumers to know their rights before making a purchase.

“Each year BBB receives calls after the holidays from upset consumers who are stuck with items they can’t return,” says

Reanna Smith-Hamblin, Communications Director for the BBB in Louisville. “Consumers should familiarize themselves with the seller’s return policy before making a purchase to prevent any confusion in the event the item they purchased needs to be returned.”

Before you go shopping for a loved one this holiday season, BBB wants to remind you to know your rights before making a purchase.

• Know the seller’s return policy. Be sure to find out about a store’s return policies before making a purchase - especially a major one. Keep in mind that returning or exchanging items is a privilege, not a right. Generally speaking, state and federal laws do not require that retailers provide returns or exchanges. A business is not obligated to accept items for refund, exchange, or credit except in cases where the item is defective or misrepresented.

• The merchandise was defective. Now what? 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 health

regulations forbid returns of such items as hats, bathing suits, and other intimate apparel.

• Check if there are restocking fees if an item is returned. 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. Or if you know you are going to return it, don’t open the package at all. Many retailers have restocking fees for high-priced merchandise such as electronics and furniture.

• You want to return an item and get your money back.