Wondering what your rights are when it comes to refunds, returns, and exchanges? You’re not alone. This is one of the common questions we get from consumers. Here’s the scoop when it comes to refunds, returns and exchanges in BC.

Looking for a refund, return, or exchange?

Did you purchase a new couch only to come home and it doesn’t fit in the door? Did you buy a pair of shoes for your grandchild that don’t fit quite right? There are many different reasons why you may want to take an item back.

However, in BC, there are no laws that deal directly with refund, exchange and return policies. This means that businesses can set their own policies when it comes to customer returns. Some stores may have super flexible return policies, and others may not.

Ultimately, it’s up to the store to decide how they want to deal with refunds, returns, and exchanges. This is why it’s so important to ask about a stores refund and return policy before you make a purchase.

What to do when you’re stuck

Here are a few steps to follow if you’ve run into a problem with a return policy.

  1. Make sure you’re aware of the store’s refund and return policy. You should do this before you make any purchase. However, if you’ve already bought the item, reference the return policy to see what’s possible.
  2. If you have a problem that isn’t being resolved by front-line staff, make a request to the store’s administration. Most businesses want happy customers, and they are often willing to work with them to solve the issue.
  3. When you speak with the business, be sure to give clear information about the reason for your return. If you purchased defective goods, calmly explain the defect and the outcome you would like.
  4. Check out the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). The CRT can help you try to resolve small claims disputes under $5,000 and strata (condominium) disputes of any amount. We’ve written a blog post that goes over what you can expect from the CRT.
  5. If you want a legal opinion, consider trying the Lawyer Referral Service from the Canadian Bar Association. They provide the opportunity for you to have a consultation with a lawyer for up to 30 minutes for a fee of $25 plus taxes.

The exception: did you buy something online that never arrived?

There’s an exception to BC retailers’ rules around returns, refunds, and exchanges…

If you ordered something online and it hasn’t been delivered to you within 30 days of the supply date (the expected day of delivery), you’re within your rights to cancel the order and receive your refund (no matter what the store’s refund policy is). Read our blog post to learn how to receive your refund when your package never arrives.

Did you like this? You might like these posts too!

What is a “quality of service” issue and what can you do about it?
Online shopping: tips to receive your refund when your package never arrives
What’s your refund policy?
Dear Consumer Protection BC: returns and refunds

About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.