Sometimes gifts don’t work out. Here are some things to think about when you do your holiday shopping this year or need to make a return.

The rules in BC

Here’s the scoop when it comes to refunds, returns and exchanges in BC. Did you buy a pair of shoes for your grandchild that didn’t fit? Or perhaps you received a sweater from your husband that just isn’t your style. There are many different reasons people 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.

Our top 5 tips when it comes to returns and refunds

Because there are no overarching rules when it comes to returns and refunds, it’s really a “buyer beware” situation when it comes to gift giving. This is why it’s so important to ask about a stores refund and return policy before you make a purchase. Here are some tips:

  1. Make a habit of asking about return and refund policies before you buy something. If you’re shopping online, make sure to look it up before you click “confirm purchase”.
  2. Make note of the last day for a return/refund for your purchase or set a reminder in your calendar if you’re still unsure if you want to return it.
  3. If you’re buying gifts, consider asking for a gift receipt and make sure you include it with your gift and remind the person about the return window.
  4. If the item is defective (vs. simply not liking it), make sure you explain that to the business and see if they offer any guarantees on their products.
  5. Be kind. The holidays can be a stressful and busy time for retailers. Always be kind to front-line staff and remember to reference the policy if you’re unsure of what you agreed to.

What to do when you’re stuck

If you believe the business is not abiding by their own policy, try following the steps outlined here: The scoop on refunds, returns, and exchanges

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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