If I’ve heard it once from a consumer, I’ve heard it 5,000 times. “I know my rights and I have 3 days to take this car back” and “The law says I have 30 days to return this stereo and the store won’t do it.” Unfortunately, these consumers are misinformed about their rights and the law. Most consumers just expect companies have a refund policy that allows consumers to return their items for a complete refund. However, in Indiana, there is not a refund law. To put it simply, a company does not have to issue refunds! They don’t even have to post their policies about refunds/no refunds. It is up to the consumer to find out what a company’s refund policy is before making a purchase. If there is no written policy, yet you are told at the time of purchase they do provide refunds, it’s advisable to get that in writing. Be sure to know what the stipulations are of getting a refund. Does the policy provide for a refund or exchanges only? Is there a waiting period for the refund? (Some companies send refunds in the form of a check from their home office and this can take weeks). Are there time limits to which you can take the item back? Does the item have to be unopened or still tagged?
There are a lot of companies out there that answer these questions for you by posting their refund/exchange policy at the customer service desk. This is great, but be sure you periodically read those posted policies at the stores you frequent most. The uncertain economic times of the past year-and-a-half has forced some companies to change their policies. Don’t assume your refund request next month will be handled the same way it was 7 months ago. The times have changed and so have some refund policies.
By: Diane Dove, Director of Dispute Resolutions