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DCP Offers Return & Refund Policy Tips


The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) reminds shoppers of New York State laws that protect consumers so they can make informed decisions about holiday returns. To avoid surprises, DCP recommends that consumers carefully review and understand what to look for when reviewing return and refund policies.

“Consumer spending during this holiday season hit an all-time high, which could mean the number of returns made will be as well,” said New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “The last thing you want is to purchase an item and realize you can’t return it due to a missing receipt or it is outside of the return window, so I urge New Yorkers to follow these tips to ensure you can get your money back if you change your mind about a purchase.”

Around the holidays, gift givers and receivers often change their minds. This year’s holiday weekend from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, set record levels for consumer spending which indicates shopping is showing no signs of slowing down according to the National Retail Federation. The increase can lead to more refunds and returns this holiday season. To help navigate the busy shopping season, DCP offers the following tips:

  • Pay Attention to Return Policies: New York State law requires that retailers post their return and refund policies clearly to inform consumers before the transaction is completed. Retailers must provide a written copy of the store’s return policy when requested.

New York State Law does not require retailers to accept returns, however, they must post a conspicuous notice visible to consumers before the point of sale advising that no returns will be accepted.

If the retailer does not post a return policy, the law requires the retailer to accept returns of unused, undamaged merchandise within 30 days of the purchase date. The returned item must include a proof of purchase and the refund must be in the form of cash or credit based on the customer’s preference.

  • Understand the Refund Terms: For retailers that allow returns, New York State law does not require refunds to be given in any specific manner. However, it does require the form of the refund – cash, credit, or exchange – be clearly disclosed in advance of purchase. Retailers must also disclose any fees associated with the return. If no fee is listed, customers should inquire whether the store imposes a re-stocking fee for returned merchandise and determine prior to purchase if the item can be returned for a refund or only store credit.
  • Retain Any Proofs of Purchase: Consumers should hold on to receipts in the event a product needs to be returned. If purchasing gifts, ask if a gift receipt is available

Consumers having difficulty obtaining a refund are encouraged to file a complaint with the New York State Division of Consumer Protection.

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