Returning Goods


The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

This topic will discuss the return of purchased goods.

There is no law that says stores must accept returns!  Each store sets its own policy on accepting returned goods.   Check the return policy of the store where you bought the goods. Be prompt if you want to return the goods.  There may be a time limit for the return.  Look for the return policies written on the back of your bill or for signs posted in the store.  If you do not see one, ask the salesclerk to write the return policy on the back of your bill.  A return policy that states “satisfaction guaranteed or your money refunded” is the most flexible of return policies.  The store may fully refund your money or accept returns for exchange or credit only.  Sometimes items cannot be returned for health reasons such as underwear, earrings and bathing suits.  Other items on advertised “on sale” or items in discount stores may be final sales.

Return the goods in their original package with their original tags and receipt. Do not take the tags off the items until you are satisfied the goods are acceptable.  If the item was a gift, return the item with the enclosed gift card.  Refunds require the original receipt and the credit will be issued in the same way as it was paid – by cash or credit card.  If you paid by cheque, the store will hold your refund until your cheque has cleared the bank.  This may take up to 10 days.

Some stores may exchange or give a store credit without a receipt if the original tags are attached to the goods.  Most stores will exchange an item which is defective.  The usual exception is when the goods are sold “as is.”  There will be no guarantee that the item works properly. Tell the store clerks in the customer service department clearly what you want.  Ask to see the manager if the clerks cannot accept the return.  The manager may make exceptions based on good customer relations if you have a good reason for the return.