You’ve just packed up the Halloween decorations and now you’re being bombarded with advertising for Christmas! Seems that Thanksgiving gets less attention each year. And BBB Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia knows that’s exactly what retailers want because the Christmas season is their busiest time of the year. Long before the traditional “Back Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” consumers will see ads for lay-a-way and pre-holiday sales. We know you have a lot on your mind, trying to determine what gifts to buy, especially for those “hard to give” folks, but here’s some tips you need to know prior to doing any holiday shopping that can save you time and most importantly, your money!
Consumers should know that in the state of Georgia, companies are allowed to establish their own policies regarding refunds, exchanges and store credits. In many firms, no such policies exist. No company is required by law to allow a customer the right to return or exchange merchandise no matter when it was purchased. The only exceptions to this rule are items that are misrepresented or defective. The laws in all states require a store to make good in such cases.
Current regulations do not require a store to post policies or put the information on the receipt. Therefore, it is your responsibility to find out each store’s policies regarding refunds/exchanges/store credits before making a purchase. Remember, policies for refunds and exchanges are voluntarily adopted to provide better customer service and not because a store is required by law.
BBB offers the following tips to make your holiday shopping a little less stressful:
- Save the receipt! Even if the store does not have a return policy, this information may be needed for warranty repair or to verify payment.
- Find out each store’s policy regarding refunds/exchanges/store credits before making a purchase. Do not assume you have the right to return items just because it is not posted or no one has said otherwise.
- If refunds or exchanges are allowed, find out the following:
- Is there a specific time period in which items may be returned?
- Must the item(s) be in the original packaging?
- Will there be a restocking fee if you change your mind?
- Can you return the item to another location of the store (this is especially important if the gift recipient is out of state).
- Will the store give money back or will you be required to make an exchange or receive a store credit?
Don’t get caught “holding the gift” after a purchase. Be a smart shopper. Know your rights and each store’s policies before making a purchase. Understand it is your responsibility to determine a store’s policies regarding refunds and your right to shop elsewhere if a particular store’s policies don’t fit your needs. Before doing business with any company, check out their report at bbb.org.
And, companies, please don’t be a Scrooge! Post your policies so your customers can clearly see them. A happy customer is a “return” customer!
To find companies you can trust, please visit our BBB Accredited Business Directory.
Information from the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection:
MYTH – A store has to give me a refund if I request one.
FACT: Georgia does not have any law that requires a business to provide a refund or accept returns. A business may set its own return policy and may offer consumers cash, in-store credit, exchanges or no adjustment at all. Many stores also set time limits during which they accept returns. While not required to post their policies, businesses must honor any posted refund or return policy.