Returns, refunds & "rights-of-rescission" - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported By Andy Wise

Returns, refunds & "rights-of-rescission"


This question from "Kathy" of Cordova, TN, hints at the confusion a lot of you have over refund policies and "buyer's remorse":

"Is the refund policy for items...governed by the law or is it a store-by-store policy?"

There is no law - federal, state or local - that mandates retailers to have refund/return policies.  Stores can have any kind of refund/return policy they want, including no policy at all.

Often, I talk to folks who assume that every state has a "buyer's remorse" law that allows them to bail out of a contract or return a product after a set number of days.  Those laws are legally referred to as a "right of rescission."

The fact is Tennessee has no right of rescission law except in the case of door-to-door sales (which you shouldn't deal with anyway, unless it's Girl Scout Cookies!), health club contracts (three days) and mortgage refinances (three days).  

Mississippi has a 5-day right of rescission on health club contracts and three days on door-to-door sales (again, avoid!).  Arkansas has a 3-day right-of-rescission "...whenever you sign a contract or make a purchase over $25 as a result of an in-home solicitation."

The National Retail Federation says in the name of customer service - and hard economic times - many retailers are relaxing their return policies.

You may find longer time periods for returns (90 days extended to 120, 30 days for electronics extended to 90 days, for example) and lower 'restocking' fees on furniture and other big-ticket items. 

Retailers, however, may request to see your driver's license in order to track your return history in case there's any return fraud in your past.   

What's important to remember is stores don't even have to have return policies. It's their stores.  They can do whatever they want.

So if you're planning on taking it back, know this:

* The only thing stores are required to do with return policies is POST THEM where every customer can see 'em. They're typically posted on price tags, the walls at the exits or check-out or the back of their sales receipts. That's it. That's all the disclosure that's required.

* Be aware of TIME LIMITS. Stores may only allow a return up to 30 days after the purchase.  Some may go as long as 90 days.

* Be prepared for NO CASH RETURNS. Because of retail theft, more and more stores are allowing only store credit on returns...

* ... which means when you buy a gift, always request a GIFT RECEIPT. That will guarantee a return for the recipient, and maybe even cash back.

* If it's an electronic item, the store may charge up to a 15 percent "RESTOCKING FEE" if it has been removed from its original box. If you got an electronic item you didn't want, leave it in the box and the original packaging.

* Depending on where you live, your county or city's health regulations may prohibit the return of certain types of clothes, like intimate apparel, underwear, etc.

* Get to know your favorite stores' managers and employees.  The more they know you are a loyal customer, the more likely they will be flexible with returns.

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