2009-07-24 / Top Stories

Require Disclosure Of Store Refund Policies

Audrey I. Pheffer Audrey I. Pheffer Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer has announced that legislation she introduced to require greater disclosure of store refund policies has passed the Assembly and the Senate.

"Over the past four years, the Consumer Protection Board has received 2,046 inquires and/or complaints from consumers about retail refund policies. These complaints and inquiries demonstrate a need to clarify the law and establish further protections for consumers. In particular, the law should require full and conspicuous display and disclosure of refund policies to allow consumers to make more informed retail choices. This bill addresses several loopholes in the current law that was codified in 1977 and has not been amended to reflect changes in the marketplace over the past three decades," said Pheffer.

Specifically the bill includes:

• Removing an exemption from the requirement that merchants post their return policies that exists under current law. At present, a merchant can claim that it provides cash refunds for 20 days, and thereby avoid the posting requirement. This exemption deprives consumers at such stores of any notice of their right to a refund.

• If a refund policy is not disclosed, this bill would permit a customer to return an item for a full refund within 30 days from the date of purchase, instead of the 20 days provided for by present law. The bill also clarifies that the buyer must be able to verify the date of purchase with a receipt or any other purchase verification utilized by the merchant.

• Requiring retailers to make a written copy of the store's refund policies available upon request, and advise the consumer of such availability on its refund policy sign. This will enable the consumer to easily reference a store's policies even after he or she leaves the establishment.

• Requiring that the required refund policy sign be updated to provide consumers notice in advance of any purchase if the return of such purchase is subject to any fees, and the dollar amount or percentage amount of such fees. This requirement covers restocking fees, which the bill defines as any amount charged by a seller for accepting returned merchandise and paying a refund or credit.

"This bill establishes a minimum standard for retailer refund policies that balances the interests of consumers and merchants, and ensures that all merchants fully disclose their refund policies," said Pheffer.

The bill is currently awaiting delivery to the Governor.

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