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Restocking Fees Not Always Legitimate

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New York, NY: If you have ever returned something to a retailer, you probably know that many companies charge restocking fees on returned items. Usually people pay the fee without questioning it, not realizing that there are rules and regulations regarding how and when retail stores can charge restocking fees.

Restocking fees victim"Restocking fees, which can be as high as 50 percent the cost of an item, are often charged by companies to cover the costs of returns to their stores. Electronics retailers charge the fees on items that have been opened because once the boxes are open the store can no longer sell the item as "brand new." In other cases, retailers may charge a restocking fee in order to cover penalties imposed on the store by manufacturers.

Regardless of whether or not restocking fees are being charged for legitimate reasons, many states have rules regarding how customers must be notified about the fees. For example, in New York customers cannot be charged for restocking fees without clear disclosure before the purchase is made. In 2005, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) charged seven retailers a total of $4,250 for failing to properly disclose their restocking fee. The companies charged were American Design Furniture, Best Buy, Best C&N Furniture, Bombay Company, Futon Warehouse, and Sharper Image.

A report issued in 2005 by the Public Advocate for the City of New York found that 44 percent of stores surveyed charged restocking fees. While some retailers charge based on a percentage on the purchase, others charged a set amount. The report cited a mattress retailer who charged a flat $200 restocking fee. According to the authors of the report, "A consumer who purchases a $300 mattress at this store would only receive $100 back upon return."

The same report found that 27 percent of stores that charge restocking fees did not post conspicuous signs to let consumers know about their policy. It is important to note that customers must be made aware of restocking fees prior to making their purchase. Some retailers only print their policies on the back of their receipts, which are issued after a purchase is made. This does not count as informing customers about the policy before making a purchase.

Other states may have their own rules and regulations regarding restocking fees. Like New York, California has a law stating that if retailers charge a restocking fee, customers must be notified of the return policy prior to making their purchase. Companies that violate state laws regarding retail returns may be held liable to the customer. Consumers could be eligible for actual damages and punitive damages if the courts deem the company's violations to be serious.

If you have been unfairly or unreasonably charged a restocking fee, contact a lawyer to discuss your options.

Retail Return Restocking Fees Legal Help

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by
Rosalind Farmer
on
February the fourth, I purchased a transmission from Robert's Engine. The transmission was sent to the garage of my choice so that the transmission could be put in the truck. Between February 23-25 of 2011, I called Robert's Engines and talked to the saleslady that sold me the transmission. I let her know that I wanted to return the transmission because my truck had been tampered with. We conversated a few times to get the solution solved. I paid $727.00 for the transmission. The outcome from the saleslady response was: pay for the freight both ways (even though the mechanic voluntarily will take the transmission back). Pay for restocking fees. I haven't used the transmission, more or less seen it. Now, the saleslady say I can get everything except $286.00. I say this is double jeopardy. I'm paying more for freight charges and restocking fees to return than for when I originally bought it.

Posted by
Dana Chatman
on
I'm a military member stationed in Georgia. We recently purchased furniture from New Found Treasures. We paid in full a asked them to hold the furniture until we closed on our home. I called the store back about 18 days later wanting to get my money back/store credit for a chair. I was told all sales are final although I was never told this during the purchase and it's not on my receipt. Is it possible for me to get my money back if inever took possession of the furniture?

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