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Gift certificates, refunds and credits in Massachusetts

Now that the Holiday gift giving season is over, let’s focus on returns, gift cards, and the rules for these for Massachusetts residents:

Refund, Return & Cancellation Policies:

Massachusetts law requires that a merchant clearly and conspicuously disclose the store’s refund, return, or cancellation policy. A merchant cannot misrepresent the store’s policy or fail to honor it. Generally, clear and conspicuous disclosure means that the merchant must display a written return policy that the buyer can see and understand before the purchase is made. As long as the product is not defective, a merchant can choose any return policy, provided the merchant discloses this policy to the buyer before the purchase. Stating the policy on the receipt would not satisfy this disclosure requirement, because it is not provided until after the sale.

Defective Merchandise:

A store, however, cannot use its disclosed policy to refuse the return of defective merchandise. When the item purchased is defective, you can choose a repair, replacement or refund. This right is contained in the Implied Warranty of Merchantability law. Under that law, merchants cannot limit your remedies. In addition, this means that if a merchant chooses an “All Sales Final” return policy, it must disclose that policy without limiting your rights. For example, the disclosure of the return policy must be similar to a posting which reads:
“All Sales Final, With the Exception of Defective Goods.”

Merchandise Credits:

When a store issues a merchandise credit for returned goods, you have at least seven years from the date of issue to redeem the credit .

Gift Certificates:

Gift certificates must remain valid for at least seven years and are not subject to any fees. Once you have used 90% of the cards’ value, you may choose to take the remaining value in cash or continue with the gift certificate. The definition of Gift Certificate is expanded to include electronic cards with a banked dollar value, and merchandise credits.  Gift Certificates not clearly marked with an expiration date, and issuance date, shall come with those dates clearly printed on the sales receipt, or available on line.  If the dates are not provided, the Gift Certificate shall be good forever.

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