How to get your money back (refund) when you return an item you bought?

Unless a product is defective, a seller isn’t obliged to take it back. To build goodwill, however, most stores have a returns policy.

You may be able to exchange an item, receive a credit, or get your money back provided you return the item in good condition, with a proper receipt, and within a stated time limit. If an item is defective, the seller or maker must try to fix it and, failing that, offer you a replacement or refund.

To return merchandise, call, write, or go directly to the seller or to a store’s returns desk. Calmly state the problem and how you want it solved. If you go, take the item with you if possible; show the receipt, canceled check, or credit-card slip (if you write, send photocopies). Buying with a credit card gives you the added leverage of withholding payment. If necessary, take the case to a company officer or to the owner.

For mail-order sales if an item isn’t delivered in the time promised, or within 30 days if no time was specified, you’re entitled to a re-fund. Ask for it in a letter to the company giving the details of the order and method of payment. If the seller notifies you of a delivery delay, he must offer you the choice of a refund or a new delivery date. If you request a refund, he must return your money within 7 business days or credit your account in the next billing cycle.

If you receive wrong or damaged goods, write to the company explaining the problem and asking for a replacement. Don’t return the item until you receive instructions from the company, usually within 10 days. If you have a complaint about a mail-order firm, write to Direct Marketing Association, Mail Order Action Line, 6 East 43 St., New York, N Y 10017.