Bought a lemon? Need a refund? What refunds are worth your time and trouble and which ones are not? Do you need a receipt to get a refund?

Refunds. Is it a matter of principle, a complete waste of your time or somewhere in between? 

Before you loose your cool at the customer service desk or just give up completely, there are things you may want to know…on what situations may be worth your time/trouble/effort and which ones may not.

Defective merchandise – If you are going to have to make a special trip and spend more on gas going back and forth than what the item is worth, then it may not be worth it.  If you drive to that store/area anyways, go for it.  

Food that goes bad before the expiry date – A lot of people are not aware that if your milk goes sour, your cheese goes moldy, etc. before the expiry date that you can return the item to the grocery store.  If you already threw out the receipt, don’t worry the store will give you a credit or replace the item. This is one situation where you can make a special trip to return the item that has spoiled and pick up a few other grocery items you need in the process of it all.

Foreign Objects/Insects in food – It is best to contact the manufacturer directly instead of taking it back to the grocery store. Large batches of food could be problematic and may have to be recalled by the manufacturer.  Keep the packaging/object/food as the manufacturer will want to see what the problem is and they will ask you for further information from the packaging itself, like the batch number, batch date, expiry date, etc.  One time I was eating soup and a hard piece of blue plastic got stuck in my molar. I contacted the manufacturer. It turned out the blue plastic was part of a broken plastic tie from one of their vegetable bags. The manufacturer gave me $150.00 worth of free product coupons for my troubles.

Lemons – If you have to keep taking an item in for repair several times while it is under warranty, you may have a lemon on your hands.  You may want to push to have the item replaced completely before your warranty runs out.  Even if your warranty has run out and the item is known to have specific manufacturing flaws, you can try to contact the manufacturer to see if they will accommodate the repair, but it is a roll of the dice on that one. 

Clothes/Material that falls apart at the seams – If you wear a shirt two or three times and it is coming apart at the seams or if that new area rug is totally fraying all around the edges after a couple months, then it may be worth it to return it to the store as a matter of principle. 

Garage sale items/used merchandise – Items are sold as is, so that means “no refunds” period, unless you have some guarantee from the owner in writing. Don’t be like the guy at my garage sale who bought a large new sealed tube of caulking for $1.00 used 1/2 of it and came back for a refund claiming it was all dried out.

Thrift store items – Since proceeds go to charity, items are usually sold as is and they have a no return policy.  Some thrift stores may offer you a store credit, but only if you have returned the item promptly. 

Furniture – A lot of furniture stores have no refund policies. Before you buy: Check the refund policy and measure the width of your front doorway and the width of the furniture.  Is the furniture narrow enough to fit through your doorway?  I’m always amazed at the number of people that are selling brand new furniture at a loss because store has a no refund policy and the furniture doesn’t fit through their front door/apartment hallways/stairwells or is too big for the size of their living room, etc. 

Cars – I have yet to hear of any dealership giving an owner a full refund without any further obligation to purchase another vehicle from their lot, unless a court is involved than that is another story.

Appliances – Refunds/exchanges are only for a limited time period like 30 to 90 days max. 

Dollar stores – Usually no refunds. May offer exchange only within 7 days. 

No receipt – You will not be able to get a cash refund in a lot of circumstances, but try not to let this deter you.  Many stores will offer you an in store credit or replace the item without a receipt. Smaller stores may even have a copy of your receipt on file.

Remember…

In general people who are respectful, kind and honest get better service/refunds faster than the ones that yell, swear and lose their cool.  If a refund is becoming a dead end saying “I can’t believe you won’t even exchange this brand new merchandise.  I will never shop at this store again and I will tell everyone about your no exchange, no refund policy.” (saying this in a loud voice so all the other customers will hear you, may get you some where)

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coconews
    Oct 05, 2008 @ 21:05:44

    More on my garage sale guy who wanted the $1.00 refund on the new caulking he used. Did I give him one?

    Yes. Anybody who lies, spends more on gas driving back and forth to your house for a $1.00 refund is not only agitated, but has a few screws loose.

    Have a refund story? Run into difficulties getting a refund, etc.? Post them here. Thanks.

  2. Linda
    Oct 06, 2008 @ 19:51:33

    The Brick doesn’t give refunds period. Over the years a few friends of mine found out the hard way.

  3. Maddie
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 16:13:43

    I went to a mom and pop clothing store that had a good assortment of styles, but I specifically went there to buy the scrubs that was reasonably priced compared to other places I’ve gone to. I was in a hurry that day so I grabbed the xs top and xs bottoms paid for it and left. Later on that day at home I decided to try it on and what do you know, it was like I was wearing large instead of xs. I took it back and they wouldn’t refund my money, instead insisted on store credit. Honestly i could care less about the store credit, I just wanted my money back so I could go buy scrubs somewhere else. I told them it was pointless to give me store credit because I was never coming back again after what happened, but they were persistent in not giving me my refund. So I took the store credit and left the store. I’m never going back to that store and i’m going to tell all my friends and family so they won’t go there either.

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