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Understanding the legal obligation to accept returns

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2019 | Consumer Protection

Consumers in Charleston likely maintain confidence in the wisdom of their purchases based upon the notion that if they are not happy with the products they buy, they can always return them. Most might assume that retailers are bound by law to take back products that customers are unsatisfied with. Yet at the same time, merchandise returns cost retailers billions every year ($369 in 2018 alone, according to Thus, lawmakers must walk the delicate line between protecting consumers’ rights while not inhibiting the success of local businesses. 

No federal laws currently exist that address the issue of product returns. A handful of states have created their own local statutes in regulation returns; unfortunately, information shared by shows that West Virginia is not one of them. Indeed, local retailers are under no legal obligation to void sales contracts or purchase agreements. They are free to create (and enforce) their own merchandise return policies. 

This does not necessarily mean, however, that a person has no legal recourse when trying to return a product. The matter of warranties has been discussed on this blog in the past. If a manufacturer fails to accept a product that does not meet the standard of its own express warranties, then a consumer may have a case against them, The same is true for retailers who offer their own express warranties on purchases. 

A consumer may also have cause to return a product for a refund if it does not fulfill its implied warranties. If a retailer implies that a product will be able to perform a certain function that it was not intended to do so, it creates an implied warranty and thus may be made to accept the product in a return if it cannot perform that function. 

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