Sometimes, after purchasing a product or a service, you find it doesn't work, it doesn't meet all of your needs or you just don't want it anymore, so you decide you want your money back. Usually, getting a refund isn't a problem, but companies can sometimes be stubborn and refuse to return your money. If you ever find yourself in this situation, there is some sure-fire advice you can follow to help you get a refund.
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A Word About What You Should Have Done
There are several things you should do every time you make a purchase. If you follow each of these simple rules, you will not only encounter fewer problems when trying to obtain a refund, but you may also avoid having to seek a refund in the first place.
Make sure the company is reputable. For large-ticket items (such as a washer or a car), contact the Better Business Bureau to see if the company is in good standing. Information about some companies can be found on the BBB website.
Check out the item carefully. A tip from Ralph Nader: "Don't buy something if it looks like someone smashed it with a hammer." Also be on the look-out for more subtle signs that the item may be broken. Make sure the packaging is not damaged and still has the factory seal. Ask the salesperson if the item comes with a manufacturer's warranty; if it doesn't, it
may have been purchased on the gray market. Gray-market merchandise is not always held to the same standards as merchandise purchased from authorized dealers: it may be missing important items, like instructions and rebate coupons.
Ask about the refund or cancellation policy. Most states require stores to post their return policies by the cash register or print them on the receipt. Make sure you know what the policy is and stay within the time limit if you decide to return the item. Service contracts (e.g. dating services or wireless phone contracts) usually give consumers a three-day right to cancel. But make sure you read the fine print, because some companies require you to send your cancellation request in writing by certified mail.
Use a credit card when buying big-ticket items. Even if you have the cash, it is a good idea to charge very expensive items (e.g. a gym membership or electronics equipment). Even if the seller is unwilling to refund your money, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company. Your credit card company will go to bat for you with the seller--and sometimes, just to keep you happy as a customer, remove the charge from your statement even if the seller doesn't agree.
Get a receipt. You'll need it to prove you actually paid the company. Don't buy anything without getting a receipt. If you spend more than $100, you are entitled to an itemized receipt in some states. Get one.