Have you recently placed an item in your shopping bag that you did not really need? Have you discovered a defect in a new clothing item? You can try to replace or return the product. Merchants are not required by law to accept returns. Therefore, you should always look up the merchant’s return policy.
Usually, a sales contract is binding. Nonetheless, most sellers permit the exchange of products.
Return policies at local retailers
A retailer is not required to offer returns or replacements for clothing or other products unless the customer did not notice that the product was damaged or defective at the time of purchase. Warranties and guarantees pursuant to current laws apply in these cases. But what about the common accidental purchase? Are retailers required to accept returns of intact products? Legally – no. This service is at a merchant’s own discretion. The receipt usually states if and within how many days a return will be accepted.
Return policies of online merchants
If you plan on sending back a product you have purchased online, you can count on return policies being in place. The right to return items is protected by law. The item can be sent back within two weeks. You do not have to give an explanation for doing so although many online merchants will provide forms that you may want to use. The same rules also apply to products that are purchased by phone.
These return policies do not apply to perishable and custom made products. Audio and video products such as CDs, computer or video games cannot be returned.
Online stores typically offer a cash refund. This is also easiest for the customer. The clothing item can be returned without having to provide a reason for doing so. At a store, the customer will receive cash or the amount will be refunded to his or her account. If the item was sent by mail, the customer has to make sure to return the item prior to a specified date. Customers are typically required to return the item within one to two weeks. If they mail back the item too late, the return will not be accepted anymore.
Refund for store credit
This method allows you to return the unwanted item, but you will not get your money back. Instead, you will receive store credit that you can use within a certain time period. You are required to purchase something else and may have to pay more in order to get something you actually want.
This last method has even more limitations. The merchant will only allow you to exchange the product with a comparable item that may have a different color or slightly different specifications. You are not even able to purchase a product from a different department, i.e. returning a household item and purchasing a fashion item instead. For example, you may have purchased a crockery set in “Chinese red” and will only be allowed to exchange it for a set in “Chinese blue” or “Chinese violet”.
Check the return policy of each merchant before you finalize the purchase so that you will not regret it after Christmas!