How to Enforce Returned Goods Consumer Rights

How to Enforce Returned Goods Consumer Rights. There are several reasons why you may need to return goods you have purchased. You may have selected the wrong item, or it's the wrong size, or perhaps the item is defective. Whatever the reason, you have a right to return the product. The only requirement in most states is that, unless the item is defective, you return it within the appropriate time and in good condition.

Learn the store's return policy before you make your purchase. The store should have a clear, written display of its rules on returns, refunds, exchanges and cancellations in a place where customers can easily see it. This allows you to make an informed decision before you buy.

Return defective items no matter what the seller's policy. The consumer is entitled to a refund, repair or an exchange if the product is defective, and you can enforce these rights even if the store claims that "all sales are final."

Check the warranty on the product. Be aware of what the store is willing to do in the lifetime of the warranty, what situations you can use the warranty for and how long your warranty will last. Also find out whether the warranty is renewable when it expires.

Inquire about store credit. In some cases you will be given store credit instead of a refund when you return an item. This may happen if, for instance, you return the item without a receipt. This is also true if you are returning an item you purchased with a gift certificate. Store credit is valid for at least 7 years.

Return the product in a timely fashion. The grace period for returns varies according to the product and may vary by store. Within the first few days or weeks of the grace period, you are entitled to a full refund.

Expect only a partial refund if you return goods after the beginning of the grace period. In the latter part of the grace period, you may only be entitled to store credit or an exchange. Unless the item is defective, you will not be entitled to anything if you try to return it after the grace period.

Check for your state's laws in regards to returned goods in order to enforce your consumer rights effectively. There will be slight differences in the requirements from state to state.


  • Keep the receipts from your transactions. Some stores have a limit on the number of times you can return items without a receipt. When you exceed this limit, they may refuse to accept any more returned items from you.

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