Consumer Handbook: Educating Yourself On Returns, Exhanges, And Gift Cards When Stores Close

Mar 7, 2019

Credit Roderick Eime/Flickr, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode

As the retail landscape changes, many Americans find their favorite retailers going out of business. These closings often are accompanied by once-in-a-lifetime liquidation sales, but they also bring dramatic changes to the retailer’s return policies, not to mention questions about unused gift cards and warranties.

Better Business Bureau advises consumers to educate themselves when retailers announce store closings in order to avoid disappointment at the point of sale. While small retailers may close for any number of reasons, larger retailers most commonly go out of business after declaring bankruptcy. Reputable stores typically give some advance notice of their store closings and or liquidation before proceeding, even if that notice takes the form of media coverage of the bankruptcy declaration or other action.

In bankruptcy, it can be a challenge for a retailer to honor returns or exchanges. In any case, all sales at a store that is closing should be considered final. Updated return policies should be posted on a reputable retailer’s website or in their stores. Be sure to read these policies before making a purchase.

If you made your purchase from a chain that has abruptly gone out of business with a credit card, disputing the charge with the credit card company may be your best option for getting your money back. Gift cards are another key consideration with retailers that are closing. If you hear that a retailer is preparing to file for bankruptcy, even if the closing of all stores is not imminent, use your gift card immediately.

Finally, if you have a warranty for an item you bought at the store, look into whether the warranty was issued by the manufacturer or by the store. If the manufacturer issued the warranty, it will most likely honor it.