Retailer Abuse: Fight Back & Win!

  • Your Rights

    Holiday shopping disappointments definitely do happen, but consumers actually have access to more benefits, protections and guarantees from retailers and manufacturers than they might realize. Here are a few less than ideal scenarios that could hit your wallet this holiday shopping season, especially if you or the retailers don’t know what your rights are. Photo Credit: Lin Pernille Photography
    Late Packages
  • Late Packages

    Scenario: You order a gift online a month before you plan on exchanging gifts with your family, but it comes late. So you buy the same thing at bricks and mortar store in time for your holiday gathering, but now the online retailer won’t issue you a refund. How You’re Protected: The federal Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Trade Regulation Rule requires stores to ship any telephone, mail, fax, and Internet order within 30 days, notes the Consumer Reports Money Advisor. Retailers have to keep their promises on shipping time, and if there’s a delay, they have to get your approval to move the order forward. If they don’t, they owe you a refund. “The clock begins running on shipping deadlines when the seller receives a properly completed order,” Consumer Reports says. Photo Credit: mroach
    Rainchecks
  • Rainchecks

    Scenario: Your supermarket advertises your favorite spaghetti sauce at half off. When you get there, the store tells you it ran out and you're out of luck. How You’re Protected: Generally, food stores are required to provide rain checks for sale items that are out of stock, Consumer Reports notes. However, in some cases, like if the retailer can prove that it ordered enough stock in preparation for the sale, you really may be out of luck. Photo Credit: quinn.anya
    When New Stuff Breaks
  • When New Stuff Breaks

    Scenario: Your new TV stops working just weeks after you bought it. The manufacturer says it will fix it since it’s still under warranty, but you have to pay for shipping. How You’re Protected: If you have a full warranty instead of a limited one, you cannot be charged for shipping or reinstallation and the warranty isn’t limited to the original person who bought the TV, Consumer Reports says. If your retailer or the TV manufacturer won’t shoulder that cost, you may be able to invoke the implied warranty of merchantability, a unwritten but state-required warranty that a product should work with ordinary use and work for a reasonable amount of time, Consumer Reports says, adding that a threat of legal action could definitely help as well. Photo Credit: benleto
    Empty Promises
  • Empty Promises

    Scenario: An electronics salesperson sells you a gadget that doesn’t actually have all the functions he told you it had, but the store won’t allow you return it. How You’re Protected: Because of the implied warranty of merchantability, you have the right to cancel the sale since the item you bought doesn’t meet your needs, Consumer Reports says. If the store won’t let you return it, but you paid by credit card, you can cancel the sale on your credit card. You may have to have prove that the salesperson said the item met your requirements to cancel the sale however, and written confirmation from the salesperson might be needed. Photo Credit: mrmanc
    Getting Swindled
  • Getting Swindled

    Scenario: You put a deposit on a necklace with an independent jeweler. The next time you visit the store, you realize that his store is closed and he may have skipped town. How You’re Protected: This is another case in which you may be better off if you used your credit card. You should be able to contest the charges for items you never received. You’re also protected if you used cash, check, or a debit card and the store went bankrupt, however. You can be considered an unsecured creditor in bankruptcy court and may be able to receive at least a portion of your deposit, Consumer Reports says. Photo Credit: Lars Ploughmann
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