Friday, August 13, 2010

Return Policies - Read the Fine Print

This is on our blog feed from our friends at the Council of Better Business Bureaus - to the right of our posts - but I think it's important enough to make it a thrilling post of my own.

We all shop. We have to. It's not my favorite hobby, but because I don't happen to have a grocery store, clothing boutique, and toy store in my living room, even I am compelled to browse a retail establishment at least once a week. Usually on Saturdays. Unless I run out of ranch dressing on a Wednesday. Then I have to venture out in the middle of the week because the world might just possibly end if there is no ranch dressing in my house. But I digress.
Occasionally, we all buy something that just doesn't work out once we get it home. I might discover that the brand of ranch dressing I bought has an ingredient in it that would turn my 3-year-old purple. Or you realize that the dress that looked great in the store is, in fact, hideous in natural light. Whatever the reason, we often have to take things back.

A lot of people assume that there are laws regulating store return policies. But that is not the case. It is up to the individual businesses to establish, and post, their own return policies. And it is up to us as consumers to read the fine print. If I bought that ranch dressing on an end-cap clearance section for 15 cents, there may very well have been signage on that shelf along the lines of "These items may not be returned. All sales final." Or, if you ripped the tags off that dress before you realized how ugly it is, you may just have to donate it to Goodwill and pray someone out there has the right coloring for that gown. As consumers, we have to be smart about what we buy.

So read that fine print.

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