December 3, 2001
Shopping wisely will ensure many happy returns
from the Better Business Bureau
Shopping concerns have never been greater. This holiday season, consumers will shop at stores in malls, on Main streets, place orders by mail, fax or phone in purchases and will use their computers to purchse gifts for friends and family.
For many happy returns the week after Christmas and all year long, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to obtain information about the merchant's refund and exchange policy before making a purchasing decision. According to the BBB, it's a common misperception that a store is obligated to accept items for refund, exchange or credit.
In fact, this is only the case when the item is defective or was misrepresented. It's perfectly legal for a store to have a "no return" or "final sale" policy.
"Most stores want to do the right thing for their customers, so they voluntarily and prominently disclore their return and refund policies.
If that information isn't provided in the store, the catalogue or on the Web site, consumers should ask for it in writing. That way, there is no confusion among either party if the gift needs to be returned.
Before you reach for your wallet, whether it is in a shop on Main Street or when you're sitting before a computer monitor, the BBB advises consumers to ask:
What is the store's return policy? May I exchange the item for another like it? May I return the items and buy something else? Will the store give me my money back if I make a return? Is this a "final sale" item and what does that mean? Am I required to pay for shipping and handling? Is there a re-stocking fee?
For more information, call (206) 431-2222.
For additional information, the Better Business Bureau has two consumer education publications that may prove helpful helpful to consumers as they contemplate the start of the holiday shopping season: Refunds & Exchanges and Shopping Safely Online.