Just about everyone has purchased something that looked like a bargain but proved to be an unfortunate mistake. Nearly all of these poor purchasing decisions do have a remedy. It is not necessary that the purchase involves a great deal of money, but there must be a genuine, serious, and material error. In these cases, the reason is clear: the parties somehow made a mistake as to what was being purchased. This general principle applies any time a merchant sells a tangible piece of property to an amateur consumer, even if the dealer claims the product is offered “as is.”
What are the consumers’ options? First, they should consider whether the merchant has any of the following policies:
- Returns:. These are policies that allow buyers to bring the product back to the merchant and get their money back for the product.
- Exchanges.: These policies allow buyers to bring back a product to the merchant and exchange it for a different product.
- Refunds.: This kind of policy allows buyers to get their money back from an unsatisfactory product; these almost always accompany return policies.
If the product itself is somehow defective, buyers should try to discover the warranties or guarantees that cover the product (if any). The product’s manufacturer rather than the seller usually offer warranties, except of course in cases where the manufacturer is also the seller of the product.
But before buyers try to return their products or make a claim under its warranty, there are preventive measures they can take to protect their rights as consumers.
- Particularly for more expensive items, consumers should insist on a signed, written, or printed receipt describing the product and the price that they are paying for it. The seller’s business name, address, and the date of purchase should appear on the receipt. Most store cash register receipts contain this information.
- In some cases, it is reasonable to request the right to submit the product to a third party for an independent evaluation. For example, if customers are buying a car, they can ask the dealer to permit a mechanic look at it. They can ask for a refund from the seller if the item is not as described. They can add this provision to the invoice. It will contain words similar to this: “Buyer has the right to submit this item to examination by a third party within five business days and to return to seller for a full refund if not as described.”
Ultimately, it can be expensive, time-consuming, and a hassle to take a merchant to court, even small claims court. In many cases, a simple complaint letter may do the trick.