Around Acadiana

Jan 3, 2013 1:06 PM by Press Release

BBB offers tips to simplify gift returns

The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana has received hundreds of phone calls through the years asking questions about making returns and exchanges on the gifts they received or purchases made during the holiday season.

There are laws to protect consumers. The Consumer Protection Act came into force Jan. 16, 2003. The purpose of this act is to safeguard the rights of consumers in areas such as unfair trade practices, unfair contract terms and misleading and deceptive conduct. The overall objective is to ensure that the market place is working well and that consumers' welfare is improved, but consumers have responsibilities, too. The Better Business Bureau works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

The BBB is routinely asked if a receipt is needed to make an exchange or get a refund or if the store or retailer gives the sale price for exchange purposes without the receipt.

The BBB reminds consumers that in order to prevent confusion and frustration when making returns to overcrowded stores after the holidays, they should shop carefully and understand refund and exchange policies before making gift purchases or exchanges. But if that isn't done, here are some facts regarding refunds and returns:

» If a new product doesn't work or was misrepresented, a consumer may return it to the retailer. However, don't dispose of your merchandise's box or container as you might need it to return to the manufacturer or department store. Many stores will voluntarily replace defective products, even if the warranty comes from the manufacturer. If a new product doesn't work or was misrepresented, a consumer may return it to the retailer. Consumers should not assume that merchandise could be returned unless specifically stated by the store, before making a purchase

» Remember that businesses have responsibilities and rights and so do consumers. The most important point for consumers to know is a store is not obligated to accept items for refund, exchange or credit unless the item is defective or was misrepresented. Consumers should not confuse refund and exchange policies with written warranties, which are promises from manufacturers to repair or replace defective products, usually within certain time limits and under certain guidelines.

» Some stores may allow only exchanges, which let the customer return one item for another. Other stores have more liberal policies, which allow returns for just about any reason and offer a credit or refund, as well as an exchange.

» Refund policies usually require that the goods be returned in new condition and within a specified period of time. In most cases, a store will require a sales (or gift) receipt or some other evidence that the item was actually bought at that store. Without a sales receipt, a shopper may not get back the full purchase price, because there is no proof that the item was not bought on sale. That could result in you obtaining a refund at the current after-holiday price.

» Retailers often provide a proof of purchase slip, often called a gift receipt, to be placed in the gift box without revealing the purchase price. This will help a gift recipient who finds it necessary to exchange merchandise for a different size or color.

» For some items, or even for all items in certain stores, the policy may be "all sales are final." Such a policy often pertains to goods that are on sale, merchandise sold at the end of the season, or personal items such as underwear, bathing suits or hats. Discount stores often have strict requirements on sales and sometimes make no exchanges or refunds.

The Better Business Bureau suggests that the time to make those returns are at off-peak hours - return lines will be shorter before 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m. Waiting a few days or a week to make that return is also suggested, depending on the retailer's requirements.

The Federal Trade
Commission's cooling-off rule gives you three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more. Under the cooling-off rule, your right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale if you buy an item in your home or at a location that is not the seller's permanent place of business. If you made a purchase from your home you could also be protected under the Federal Trade Commission Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Trade Regulation Rule. This rule may apply to purchases made by mail, phone, fax or Internet. If you want more information on the rule go to

Tips making purchases:

» Bottom line is to be prudent about purchase decisions, think before you buy.

» Businesses have a right to set store policy as long as it is in compliance with Louisiana and federal laws.

» Don't assume you have the right to return goods for exchanges or refunds.

» Be a responsible and wise consumer; ask questions about return policies before you buy.

For more consumer tips or to check out a business or charity, go to or go to

The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact the BBB at or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.

The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.

Acadiana residents can now have BBB information in the palm of their hand with the official BBB Search app, a convenient, mobile BBB solution available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app can be found at:



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