Refunds and Exchanges
State law requires that a retail merchant disclose all conditions, charges, or fees relating to the return of goods for refund, exchange or credit. A merchant’s failure to disclose its return policy can be a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA).
Refunds and Exchanges Checklist
- Know the seller’s return policy and timeline.
- Return policies vary, so confirm before purchasing. Common return policies include cash-back, a credit card refund, a corporate refund check, or store credit.
- Check if there are restocking fees for returned items.
- Save your receipt along with any other documentation regarding the purchase. Your receipt serves as proof of purchase.
The VCPA Requires Customer Notice in Most Circumstances
- As a general rule, a merchant must notify its customers about its return policy by a sign attached to the goods or placed in a conspicuous public area of the merchant’s premises. The sign must be readily noticeable and readable by the customer.
- Merchants that do not permit refunds, exchanges, or store credits must post that policy on a sign in a conspicuous area.
- A refund policy printed on a store receipt does not meet the requirements of the law. A receipt is received after payment is rendered and does not satisfy the VCPA’s requirement that merchants provide notice before purchase.
The VCPA Includes Some Exceptions
- A merchant is exempt from the VCPA posting requirement if it provides a cash refund or credit-card refund within 20 days or more of purchase, when the customer returns defective, unused, or undamaged merchandise and can present proof of purchase.
- The VCPA posting requirement does not apply to purchases involving sale merchandise that is obviously distressed, out of date, post-season, or otherwise reduced for clearance. It also does not apply to special order purchases.
- The posting of refund policies does not apply to a transaction for the sale or lease of motor vehicles.