Refunds and Exchanges Podcast Transcript


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Welcome to the Informed Consumer, providing the latest tips and tools to assist consumers in making informed decisions, from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.

Today’s topic: Refunds and Exchanges.

Virginia 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).

Here is a 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  • The VCPA posting requirement does not apply to purchases involving sale merchandise that is obviously distressed, out of date, post-season, or otherwise reduced for clearance.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.

Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer. Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.

 



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