Problem with a Purchase
Have you ever bought something that was missing a part? Or that
broke the second time you used it? Or didn't work? Here are some
tips that will help you if you have a problem with something you
The Simple Return
The blouse doesn't fit. The toy is missing a wheel. You may be
able to simply return it. Stores are not required to take returns
or give refunds. However, most stores do have some form of refund
or return policy. Some stores will give refunds only if you have
your receipt and only if you return the item within a certain number
of days. Some stores will not give a refund; they may give a store
credit or replace the item.
If the item you buy is defective, the store should replace it or
give you a refund if you return it within the store's time limit.
A store does not have to replace something that was marked "AS IS."
If you pay by check, the store might not refund your money until
your check has cleared at the bank. If you pay by credit card, the
store will credit your account instead of giving you a cash refund.
The More Difficult Problem
What if your microwave oven stopped working two months after you
bought it? Or baby's car seat breaks? These problems may take a
little more work. Save sales receipts, warranties, canceled checks,
or contract. Put the papers in a box or file. If someone asks you
to send them the receipt, check, or contract, give them photocopies;
not the original.
Contact the store, company, or salesperson from whom you bought
the item. Be calm and give the facts. Tell what the problem is and
what you want them to do. If you are writing a letter, tell them
how to reach you.
- Keep a record of what happens.
- Write down who you talked to and when.
- Keep a copy of all letters you write or that the company writes
- Keep complaining until the problem is fixed. If the salesperson
can't help you, ask to talk to the manager.
- Call or write the person who handles complaints at the company's
- Look for a customer service phone number on the box or label.
Or ask your library to check the telephone book for toll-free
- Ask for help if you need it. Your town or county may have an
office that helps consumers with problems. Some radio stations
and newspapers have a column or service that will help. The Attorney
General or the post office may also be able to help in some situations.
Office of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
100 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
Deals with consumer fraud (Request must be in writing)
Chief Postal Inspector
U.S. Postal Service
Washington, D.C. 20260-2100
Helps with mail fraud or sexually offensive mail.
Local department of Consumer Affairs or similar office
Department of Consumer Services
121 N. LaSalle St., Room 808
Chicago, IL 60602
Assists any time you have problems with a company doing business
in Chicago; accepts complaints and holds hearings to investigate.
Prepared by: Karen Chan, Educator,
Consumer and Family Economics
Chicago Extension Center
Edited by: Katherine J. Reuter
Consumer and Family Economics
Countryside Extension Center
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