Many shoppers believe that when they buy something at a store or online, they will be able to return it for almost any reason.
However, there is no law in Canada that states retailers must take back items, which is why it’s important to know store return policies, whether you’re shopping online or in-store, according to CTV Toronto’s Consumer Reporter Pat Foran.
Most major retailers have generous return policies to keep customers happy, however some stores won’t take back opened or used items. Others charge restocking fees.
This holiday season, there’s a good chance you will give or receive at least one present that needs to be returned to the store. An ugly sweater? Perhaps a coffeemaker that you already own?
Unfortunately, many shoppers find out the hard way how some store policies work.
“I will have to settle for whatever price it’s at, if I don’t have the receipt,” one knowledgeable customer told CTV Toronto.
Since choosing the perfect gift isn’t always possible, shopping at a store with a flexible return policy is considered a good idea.
The most “flexible” return policies “don’t require a receipt or impose a time limit when you can make a return,” said Donna Rosato, a senior editor at Consumer Reports.
Stores such as Bed Bath and Beyond, Nordstrom and Costco have very lenient return policies. In many cases, goods can be returned with no time limit, and no receipt required.
However, other stores can be much more restrictive.
“You may only have 30 days or less to return an item, and they likely insist on a receipt,” Rosato said.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, these are the questions customers should ask when making a purchase:
-Is it a full refund, exchange or store credit?
-Do I need a receipt, sales tag or original packaging?
-Are there restocking fees?
-Can personal items, shavers, jewelry or lingerie be returned?
-What if the item has been opened or used?
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And depending on the purchase, there are other considerations. For instance, some stores won’t allow you to return clothes that have been worn, washed or if the tags have been removed.
It’s also important to check how returns work for online shopping, including finding out who will pay for shipping and handling if an item has to be returned. Some stores will let customers drop off merchandise at a physical location in order to avoid shipping charges.
A store’s return policy should be found on the receipt or posted at the checkout counter.
If in doubt, ask before you pay.