Should Retailers Offer A Refund On Non-Returnable Items If Faulty?

MrsSunshine on our forums brought up an interesting topic.  She bought a bedding set and the cashier mentioned that it was non-returnable.  On opening the packaging at home, there was an awful smell coming from it, not something that makes you want to snuggle up in your new bedding.

The store in question has offered a refund but should stores be required to allow refunds when the item is not as you expect? Obviously worn underwear would be a no no for me, but what about other items.

12 responses to “Should Retailers Offer A Refund On Non-Returnable Items If Faulty?”

  1. Orual says:

    Yes they should. If the product is faulty right out of the pack, mislabelled or there is just something wrong, the store should replace it. And likewise the manufacturer for the store.

    The exception would be liquidation centres and dollar stores who do not have the ability to send things back. Purchases made there are at the buyers own risk.

  2. Kat says:

    Yes they should if the product is faulty or can be deemed to be unusable or unsaleable. Most provinces have some form of protection for consumers that state that if you don’t have the opportunity to examine the product and the product isn’t in a reasonable and/or usable condition, you should have a right to a refund/store credit. This should also apply to products that the store claims are final sale. In Ontario this is the Sale of Goods Act.

  3. Sandra5 says:

    Obviously the seller should refund the money if the merchandise is defective.
    The big question is how to enforce this?
    I’ve googled the “Sale of Goods Act” and it’s too complicated (for me!) to see where the consumer cans enforce the refund without going to court. Anyone have and ideas as to how to quickly and easily get a refund in this situation?

  4. ChemFree says:

    I think they should EXCHANGE or offer store credit for damaged non-refundable goods, unless it is labelled “As Is”.

    It would be the right thing to do for a merchant…but I can see why some are reluctant…when you hear of stories about what people try to return and their equally as dumb reasons, lies and excuses it’s a no wonder legit refunds get turned away. If we as the consumer take a moment to think about the number of returns and all the reasons, excuses, and stories merchants hear on a daily basis, we might have more sympathy for the question at hand. It’s so easy for us to take it personally and think they are doing it as a personal vendetta against us…when in reality it’s retaliation to the crazy excuse they just heard before we even got there!

  5. Kat says:

    The SGA would be the basis of a small claims court action and there really isn’t anywhere else to enforce it. But most places don’t have a lot of issues as they do just return them to the manufacturer but one of the biggest issues is misuse of return policies, that’s why they give you such a hard time sometimes. Also, sometimes the floor staff are just following what they’ve been told. If they’re not allowing you to return/exchange/refund it, the best thing to do is ask to speak to a manager, they typically are more knowledgable. Knowing your rights is one of the best ways to get your money back. If a manager can’t help you, write to corporate noting their obligations under consumer protection laws.

    I would recommend searching for the acts using the word ‘explained.’ is a very good source for having laws explained. And if you are going to read the SGA, focus on sections 14, 15 and 16.

    Another way is to pay by credit card. If the product is defective and the store won’t give you your money back, call your credit card company and challenge the charge by telling them that you will not pay for it as the product is defective (you can also do this with any services that are not actually provided but have been charged to your credit card).

  6. Rebecca says:

    I think that if something is final sale, then that’s what it is – final sale. When you buy something that is final sale, the cashier usually let’s you know or it’s written on the receipt. That means that you’re taking a risk and purchasing it anyway, whether you’ve seen it or not.

  7. thatgengirl says:

    Most retailers use common sense in these situations, but it depends on a few things:

    1. Is the customer being reasonable? (i.e. not returning panties because the seam is slightly uneven)
    2. Is the customer being civil? (not aggressive, rude or offensive)
    3. Is the item of significant value? (i.e. not a dollar bin bargain item)
    4. Does the store care if it has repeat business (i.e. going out of business)

    I think it’s safe to say that moldy bedding or disintegrating bathing suits should be taken back regardless of policy.

    When I worked at Winners, you wouldn’t believe the sort of thing I saw on a daily basis. I had a woman scream at me because I wouldn’t take back a pair of pants stained with bodily fluids. I had an irate customer threaten to take me to court because I implied she lied about not using the pillows she was trying to return–pillows covered in long black human hair and fuzzy grey cat hair. I witnessed a little old lady take a comforter from it’s package, stomp all over it, then take it to customer service to demand a discount on account of it being dirty.

    These are the sort of things that make customer service representatives start loathe their customers. In fact, if a person was polite, happy and patient, I automatically gave them what they wanted, out of sheer delight at the change of pace.

    I’m so glad I don’t deal with returns anymore.

  8. HappyCouponSaver78 says:

    If it is faulty product like moldy bedding and soiled undergarments then yes!

  9. Linda Peters says:

    It depends on the article, I ordered complete bedding set from Sears online, and when I opened it up the oily smell was terrible, I returned it to the store, at first they suggested I wash it, I have tried this on other things that have had the same smell to no effect but in the end they did take it back.

  10. thatgengirl says:

    What is that smell anyhow? I’ve had this happen to me in the past, and I either returned or tossed the item.

    One in particular was a sweater I bought. When I tried it on, there was no smell. When I got it home, a mild odor. A day later, a strong smell. I put it in the bag to return it, and a day later the smell was so strong, I had to put the bag in a closet. Then, a day later, the whole upstairs smelled. A day after that, you could smell it outside my apartment door. I just threw it out since I didn’t have time to replace it. What can cause that?

    My son’s lunchbag also reeks like oil, but I’m noticing it get better after the last couple of weeks.

  11. jayne_a says:

    If an item is faulty then i think an exchange should be in order. But I think all food should be a final sale simply b/c of health and safety reasons. (Unless it’s rotten then again exchange only) I hate when people get an outfit and then spill something on it and try to say they bought it like that. There are a lot of people who lie out there, and i don’t find to many honest people anymore especially working customer service. Would you buy an open package of underwear that had been returned? I wouldn’t b/c even if the person said they were never tried on only looked at, should you trust a complete stranger? That’s just my opinion. 🙂

  12. Linda Peters says:

    depends on the item, if it is personal I would say no, but bedding yes. I purchased a bedding set from Sears and the smell of petrolum on opening the bag would make anyone sick. I returned the whole set $300.oo and they hedged on the refund but I finally got my money back.


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