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Press Releases

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12/06/2021

Consumer Protection Reminds Shoppers: Check the Return and Exchange Policies as You Shop This Holiday Season

Consumers should also be aware of state’s rain check law as supply chain disruptions continue to affect product availability

December 6, 2021 – The Department of Consumer Protection is reminding consumers to be aware of return and exchange policies, as well as the state rain check law as they continue their holiday shopping this year.

“It’s easy to get in a rush when completing your holiday shopping, especially this year when many products are in high demand and short supply,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “But it’s important to take the time to understand return and exchange policies before you make a purchase. Ask for gift receipts whenever possible, understand if there’s a restocking fee, and pay attention to the timeframe for returns.”

When shopping online, buyers should read the terms and conditions prior to submitting their order to understand their return and exchange rights, as well as the remedies available if a package is seriously delayed. For in-person purchases, make sure to ask about the return policy before you check out, especially for big ticket items like electronics.

Consumers should return unwanted gifts sooner than later to ensure the best outcome for their return or exchange.

This year, the department has received more than 1,552 complaints related to refunds, credits and exchanges. That’s compared to 1,100 in 2020 and 700 in 2019.

The department has also received several inquiries this holiday season about the state rain check law.

If a store runs out of an advertised sale item during a sale period, Connecticut law requires them to post clear notice in the store that the item is not in stock, and to notify shoppers that they may ask for a rain check.

Consumers should note that rain checks apply when merchandise is offered for sale at a stated price without condition (such as “while supplies last”). If a coupon or return of a rebate is required to get the sale, then the merchandise is not technically offered for sale at that lower price, and rain checks are not required to be offered.

Here’s what consumers should know about refunds and exchanges:

  • In Connecticut, sellers can set their own refund or exchange policies, provided they post the policy in a conspicuous place for customers to see.
  • If there is no policy posted, you may return any new, unused item to the store with a proof of purchase within seven (7) calendar days, and get a cash refund on a cash sale or a credit to your account on a credit sale.
  • If marked nonreturnable, you are not entitled to a refund on:
    • Food
    • Perishable items, including live plants
    • Custom-ordered or custom-made items
    • Items that were sold “as is” or as a “final sale”
    • Items with no proof of purchase
    • Used items
  • Stores may charge a "restocking fee," which covers its cost for returning your unwanted item to its warehouse. If this restocking fee is part of the store's refund and exchange policy, it must be posted in a conspicuous place for customers to see.
  • Tax law affects refunds. Retailers cannot issue a refund on the sales tax portion of your purchase without having your printed sales receipt, and after 90 days, no refunds of sales tax are allowed at all, even with a receipt.

If consumers have issues with a return or exchange, they are encouraged to file a complaint with DCP by emailing dcp.complaints@ct.gov, or by visiting ct.gov/dcp/complaint.

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Media Contact:
Kaitlyn Krasselt
kaitlyn.krasselt@ct.gov
(860) 713-6019 (office)
(860) 377-0246 (cell)