Better Business Bureau Explains Refund Policies

The BBB wants you to know your rights before you make a purchase this holiday season.

Keep in mind that returning or exchanging items is a privilege, not a right. A business is not obligated to accept items for refund, exchange, or credit, except in cases where the item is defective or misrepresented.

Regardless of a store's policy, if the goods you have purchased were misrepresented or are defective, the laws in all states require a store to make good in such cases.

Check if there are restocking fees if an item is returned. If you custom order a product, many stores charge a restocking fee for the return of such a product. 

A customer's money may be returned under a refund policy. These policies usually require that products be returned to a store within a specific period of time, and in original purchase condition. A sales slip or some other evidence that the item was actually purchased at a particular store is usually required. 

 In a product exchange, an item may be returned and another item of equal value may be received in its place. This privilege is usually extended when the buyer has made a reasonable mistake.

Some products have warranties that spell out the manufacturer's liability if the product is defective. Reading a product's warranty before returning an item to a store from which it was purchased is highly recommended. In some cases, warranties exempt stores from product liability and require consumers to mail the product to a manufacturer in order to receive monetary refunds, credit, or product replacement.

Don't delay. If a store has a return policy, there may be time limits for returns. Always keep receipts and original packaging. For more shopping tips, visit