You might be used to the idea that anything can be returned and refunded nowadays. However, there are some common myths you should consider – especially when it comes to bargain hunting.
Each store has its own return and refund policy. The deadline may vary between 14 and 60 days, some stores will only offer store credit, and if the item is not faulty, you are not entitled to a refund. Let’s clarify some common myths.
- “I am less protected when shopping online”
In fact, you have more rights when you buy online. In most cases you are able to return the product, even if you just change your mind. However, returns are not necessarily free – you might have to pay the shipping fees, you need to keep the item and packaging in the original condition, and, most importantly, you have to keep the receipt.
If you buy online from a European Union seller, you get the right for a 14-day cooling off period from the time you received the purchase. Unfortunately, it is not a worldwide law.
- “I can not return anything bought on final sale”
Be especially careful with Final sale items. You will only be able to return the product if it’s faulty, but not if it doesn’t fit as expected, unless it is clearly not the size described. You better double check the measurements and product description for the size and fit information.
- “I get same rights regardless of which website I buy from”
If you decide to buy something from a foreign website, consumer laws of the seller’s country will apply. And in case of a return you may lose more than you gain. You will not be refunded the sales tax, customs tax, and most likely, shipping costs. I was unhappy with the purchase once, and it was cheaper (and faster) to buy it again than request an exchange.
- “Buying from an individual is the same as buying from a retailer”
Don’t count on your consumer rights when you buy something from an individual through a website, e.g. an online auction or consignment. Marketplace websites in general take very little responsibility for the quality of the items or accuracy of the description. Make sure to check the website’s terms and conditions before making an offer. I personally prefer buying new on sale rather than pre-owned, for more than one reason.
- “I am entitled to a refund if my order doesn’t arrive on time”
Wrong. If your order does not arrive on time, you are not entitled to a refund, unless the seller stated explicitly your delivery date, as in case of holiday delivery.
Best practice is to always check the return policy, as well as terms and conditions. But at the very least, take a good look around the product page for any disclaimers or info popups.
If you are as crazy about catching a sale as I am, return policy is your main pitfall. Think carefully if it’s worth it, or you will be stuck with another piece you can’t use.