Exchange and refund policies
You’ve made a purchase, but you’ve changed your mind and want to return it.
Is the merchant obligated to refund your money? What if the item is defective?
Let’s take a look at exchange and refund policies.
IF YOU SIMPLY CHANGED YOUR IDEA (the item is OK and not defective):
First of all, be aware that there is no law that requires the merchant to accommodate you if you have changed your mind about your purchase.
In fact, nothing forces merchants to have an exchange and refund policy. Rather, it is a voluntary business practice designed to provide good customer service, encourage trial and build consumer loyalty.
Since it is an optional practice, the terms are left to the discretion of the merchant. It is therefore normal for policies to vary from one merchant to another, whether it be in terms of:
- the time period within which the goods can be returned;
- the possibility of a refund (the merchant may decide to offer an exchange with another item only);
- the way the money will be returned (cash refund or store credit);
- exemptions (e.g., open box, tag removed from garment, clearance items);
- the restocking fee, for example, if it was mentioned at the time of purchase;
- Documentation requirements (e.g. paper invoice).
All terms and conditions are at the discretion of the merchant, but the merchant must abide by their rules.
IF THE ITEM IS NOT IN ORDER:
Sometimes you may have received an item that does not conform to the description you were given, but it is not defective. For example, you ordered a blue hat, but you received a red hat. It does what it is supposed to do, but it is not what you wanted. In this situation, the conformity warranty applies.
IF THE ITEM IS DEFECTIVE:
The law obliges the merchant to repair, exchange or refund you, regardless of their exchange or refund policy! This is an obligation under the Consumer Protection Act.
*Because of the pandemic, many retailers have changed their exchange and refund policies. Some are more permissive than usual while others have tightened their conditions. One more reason to be well informed before buying!