March 14, 2023

Is there a grace period for product returns?

Dear Consumer Ed:

I had a tankless water heater installed two days ago. I signed and paid for the work, but later discovered that I paid $4,500 for a unit that retails for around $2,000. Is there a grace period that allows me to return the unit for a refund?

Consumer Ed says:

Georgia does not have any law that requires a business to provide a refund or accept returns. A business may set its own return policy and may offer consumers cash, in-store credit, exchanges or no adjustment at all. Many stores also set time limits during which they accept returns. While not required to post their policies, businesses must honor any posted refund or return policy. Check the company’s website or call their customer service line for more information on refunds.

There is a limited right to cancel a sales contract under the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling-Off Rule, but it only apples only in very specific circumstances. When a sale is made at someone’s home or workplace, or at a seller’s temporary location — such as a hotel room, convention center, fairground or restaurant – you have three business days to cancel the purchase for a full refund under the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Cooling-Off Rule. (Note that Saturday counts as a business day.) There are some exceptions to this rule, however. You do not have a three-day right to cancel a contract for sales that are:

  • previously negotiated at the merchant’s regular place of business
  • under $25 for sales made at someone’s home
  • under $130 for sales made at temporary locations
  • real estate, insurance, or securities
  • vehicles sold at temporary locations, if the seller has at least one permanent place of business
  • arts or crafts sold at fairs or places like shopping malls, civic centers and schools
  • sales made entirely by mail or telephone
  • for emergency home repairs
  • for home improvement loans or any contract where your home is used as collateral or a security deposit.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.

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