Attorney General Alerts

    Don’t Let Returns Make For a Blue Christmas


    December 23, 2015

    Finding the perfect gifts for family and friends can be an overwhelming task, and sometimes no matter how much thought is put into gifts, the recipient needs to return or exchange it. When this happens, consumers need to know the company return policies.

    Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released today’s consumer alert to help both gift givers and recipients this Christmas season, should gift returns or exchanges be necessary.

    “Gift giving and receiving can be fun,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But a problematic return policy can spoil the moment. Some retailers allow shoppers to make returns regardless of the reason, which leads consumers to wrongly believe they are entitled by law to a full refund or credit.”

    Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for gift recipients needing to make a return or exchange:

    · Ask the gift giver about the store’s return or exchange policy.

    · Keep all gift receipts.

    · Do not open the box or remove the tags if you may return it.

    · Some online retailers allow purchases to be returned in store, while others require the item be shipped back. Check with the company ahead of time.

    As a gesture of goodwill, most companies offer in-store exchanges if the customer has the receipt and the item is promptly returned. However, others have an “all sales are final” policy for deeply discounted or clearance items and do not allow returns or exchanges. Return policies not only differ from store to store but can also differ for items purchased in-store and items bought online or by mail-order.

    Some retailers that allow returns may charge restocking fees for certain products. Consumers can sometimes pay a fee of 10 to 25 percent of the price of the item if the package is not in the condition in which it was purchased. Meanwhile, items like computer software, CDs, DVDs and Blue-Ray discs are not generally returnable after the seal has been broken.

    Retailers are not required to accept at-will returns, and even in the case of a defective product, consumers may be required to contact the manufacturer. Sometimes retailers will require consumers to deal with the product manufacturer directly, rather than simply returning the item to the place of purchase.

    The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend an average of $463 on family members this holiday season, up about $5 from last year, and holiday spending is expected to increase 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion.

    For other consumer related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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