Re­turns and ex­changes: Know store poli­cies and your rights un­der MD law

The Avenue News - - EDITORIAL - By: KAREN STRAUGHN As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Di­rec­tor, Me­di­a­tion Unit, Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Divi­sion of the Mary­land Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral

One of the great joys of the hol­i­day sea­son is find­ing and giv­ing the “per­fect” gift to a loved one. But it’s a fact of life that, de­spite our best ef­forts, some­times the gift isn’t so per­fect after all. Maybe the shirt doesn’t fit right, the cof­fee maker ar­rives bro­ken, your lit­tle one al­ready has a singing Elmo doll; the list could go on and on. You may find your­self in the un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing to re­turn or ex­change a gift you bought for some­one else, or re­ceived your­self, and we are here to give you some tips on help­ing this trans­ac­tion go smoothly.

Re­gard­less of how you are pur­chas­ing a gift, check the mer­chant’s ex­change and re­turn poli­cies. Mary­land law is pretty stan­dard re­gard­ing re­fund and ex­change poli­cies for tra­di­tional brick-and-mor­tar shops (we’ll get to on­line pur­chases in a mo­ment). Here are the ba­sics.

• Re­tail­ers are al­lowed to set what­ever pol­icy they like for re­turns or ex­changes (in­clud­ing NO re­funds or ex­changes), as long as it posts the pol­icy in writ­ing or prints it on the re­ceipt. It’s a good idea to al­ways ask for a re­ceipt or a copy of the re­tailer’s pol­icy when mak­ing a gift pur­chase.

• If a store does al­low re­funds for pur­chases, it may also set what­ever poli­cies it chooses (lim­i­ta­tions on num­ber of re­turns, how long a cus­tomer has to make a re­turn, a re­stock­ing fee, etc.); again, as long as the pol­icy is dis­closed in writ­ing prior to the pur­chase be­ing made.

• What if the store has no pol­icy posted in the store or on the re­ceipt? Re­funds and ex­changes should be al­lowed within a rea­son­able time frame as long as the prod­uct is still in good work­ing or­der. Still, it’s best to ask the mer­chant be­fore mak­ing the pur­chase.

• Bro­ken or de­fec­tive item? Mer­chants are re­quired to re­pair the item, re­place it, or give you a re­fund—re­gard­less of the store’s re­turn pol­icy. (Make sure you tell them the item is bro­ken or de­fec­tive.) Gift-givers, re­mem­ber that re­cip­i­ents may need to re­turn or ex­change items them­selves. Just to be on the safe side, try to ob­tain a gift re­ceipt or give the orig­i­nal re­ceipt (sealed in an en­ve­lope, if you wish) to the re­cip­i­ent.

For on­line pur­chases, you should check for the mer­chant’s web­site for its ex­change and re­turn pol­icy, in­clud­ing whether there are lim­i­ta­tions on ex­changes and re­turns, or whether there is a re­stock­ing fee or you are re­quired to pay re­turn ship­ping.

To best pro­tect your op­tions, keep records of your pur­chase and ship­ping slips, and have the con­tact in­for­ma­tion for cus­tomer ser­vice handy in case there is a prob­lem.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.