How to Get a Refund

It can be hard to get a refund for something you bought that doesn’t work or doesn’t do what the salesman said it would do. The good news is that it is often easier than you might think to get a refund. Here are step-by-step instructions that will work in many situations. In more complicated situations you may need to contact an experienced consumer rights attorney for assistance.

Step One:

Call and ask about getting a refund. Explain the problem and be as nice as possible.  Many companies pride themselves on good customer service and are more than happy to help you get a refund. Being nice is the key here. Don’t yell, swear, or threaten anyone. Be nice even if they turn down your refund request.

Step Two:

If the company refuses your first refund request give the matter a day or two and then call back and speak with a supervisor or manager. Many companies will either refuse to escalate the call or even put a low-level customer service agent on the phone pretending to be a manager but ask anyway.  Proceed as you did in Step One and simply and nicely ask for a refund. Don’t get angry no matter what response you get. You can get a refund if you don’t give up. It just might take a little more effort.

Step Three:

If the company rejects or ignores both of your verbal refund requests it is time to write a letter to the company requesting a refund. Again, be nice. Simply explain the issue without making any threats and send the letter to the company’s billing dispute department if it has one. If not, send it to their customer service address. Send the letter by certified mail and allow the company 30 days to investigate your complaint. It may call, so be prepared to calmly discuss the issue.

Step Four:

If the company doesn’t respond and fails to issue the refund after 30 days, it is time to escalate your complaint. Write a second letter and this time send it to an executive such as the company president or vice president. Use the Internet to find the correct name and address. Stay nice and calmly explain your complaint and why you want to get a refund. Do not threaten them in any way. Send the letter certified mail. If after 30 days they still fail to respond or issue a refund, proceed to Step Five.

Step Five:

If you are sure you have a legal basis to get a refund your next step is to advise the company of your intention to sue. Have an attorney review your complaint to be sure you are justified in requesting a refund. An official opinion about the merits of your case from a consumer law attorney will help you avoid wasting any time or money pursuing a losing issue. Frankly, if you are not absolutely certain you have a legal justification, you should have stopped trying to get a refund at Step Two. Furthermore, do not threaten to sue unless you absolutely WILL sue. Empty threats make you a jerk, not an informed consumer. In the letter you still need to be nice even though you are advising the company you plan to sue. Respect goes a long way here and if you show anger or frustration the company is less likely to take you seriously. Again, send this letter by certified mail.

Step Six:

If, after 30 more days, the company still has not issued a refund or contacted you to discuss the matter it is time to sue. Typically, suing in small claims court is your best option but, in many cases, hiring an attorney and proceeding in a higher court is more likely to succeed in getting you a refund. It really depends on how much money is at issue. Either way, going to court is a drastic and sometimes stressful occasion so don’t do it alone if you aren’t sure of your ability to handle it properly.

If needed, feel free to review our previous article for more information about the process of suing a company in small claims court.

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