Calgary Legal Guidance

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 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 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.

If you want to return an item because it is broken, the store may be obliged to offer a replacement for the item, repair it, or return your money. If a manufacturer’s warranty came with the item, the store may refer you to that warranty and suggest you contact the manufacturer directly. Welcome to Alberta: A Consumer Guide for Newcomers 3 If you are having problems with an exchange or refund, or feel the seller is not respecting their policy, contact Service Alberta’s Consumer Contact Centre: Edmonton and area: 780-427-4088 Other areas within Alberta, call toll free: 1-877-427-4088 Email:

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.

Without an “as is” exception, the store may be making a warranty that the good you are buying is fit for a particular purpose. The store must know what your particular purpose is, and that you are relying on the seller’s expertise. Likewise, if you are unable to inspect the product, such as ordering over the telephone or internet, the good is implied to be of “merchantable quality”. You should seek legal guidance if you think either of these situations may apply to your contract.

Dial‑A‑Law is a Calgary Legal Guidance public service project funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.

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