Holiday shoppers may go ahead and buy a gift even though they’re not certain the recipient will need or like it. “He can always exchange it,” the buyer may think. But that’s not necessarily the case.
In Georgia, companies are allowed to establish their own policies regarding refunds, exchanges and store credits, according to the Better Business Bureau, which warns that consumers would do well to be aware of store polices before making purchases—especially those intended as gifts.
“In many firms, no such policies exist,” notes a BBB statement. “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.”
Otherwise, policies for refunds and exchanges are those voluntarily adopted to provide better customer service. If a store’s policies don’t fit a customer’s needs, the customer should shop elsewhere, the BBB advises.
“During the holidays, you have to be a bit lenient,” noted a manager at Rainbow Clothing Store in North DeKalb Mall. “Basically, we don’t want customer complaints. I tell the [sales clerks] to go ahead and accept it if it’s a valid return.” She explained that a return is valid if the item was purchased at that store and it has not been worn.
Willie Gray, the manager of Burlington Coat Factory in North DeKalb Mall, said that his store grants exchanges and refunds, but notes that these are far simpler when the customer has a receipt. Also, he advised, “Keep the tags on the merchandise. Other stores sell the same merchandise and with the tag, we can know where it came from. It protects the customer and the stores,” he said.
The BBB reports that Georgia law does not require a store to post policies or put the information on the receipt. It is therefore the consumer’s responsibility to find out each store’s policies regarding refunds, exchanges or store credits before making a purchase.
The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to holiday shoppers:
• 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 and 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 re quired to make an exchange or receive a store credit?
The BBB says that consumers can check its Web site, bbb.org., for reports on a company before doing business with that company.