Asking for a Refund 101

How To Get Your Money Back When You Deserve It

Asking for a Refund 101
December 26, 2014

You have most likely had at least one experience in your lifetime when you deserved a refund but did not receive one. You might have been scared to ask for your money back or simply too lazy to go through the motions.

It really doesn't matter why you didn't get a refund. You should have gotten a refund. Here is how to get the refunds that you deserve.

Getting a Refund for a Product at a Brick and Mortar Store

Getting a refund at a physical store is normally pretty easy because you know exactly where to go. Whether you bought a t-shirt that didn't fit at Kohl's or a laptop at Best Buy that was broken when you opened the box, you know to return to the store where you bought the item to get your refund.

Follow these steps to ensure a smooth refund process:

First, make sure you know the store's refund policy and make sure your situation fits within it. Second, collect all of the original packaging of the item you bought and bring that, along with your receipt, when you return to the store. Finally, approach the customer service desk and ask for a refund. It's that easy, in most cases.

However, what if something goes wrong and they refuse to award you a refund?

You can politely ask to speak with a supervisor or manager to process your return. Supervisors and managers often have more power to bend the rules than front line employees do. If that doesn't work, try contacting the company's corporate office on the phone, through their website or via snail mail. Keep notes of all your contacts with the company, including whom you spoke with and what was said.

Getting a Service Refunded

Getting a refund for a service is a bit trickier than getting a refund for a product at a physical store. Regardless of whether a service is offered at a physical location or not, most of the rules are the same for getting a refund.

The first thing you will need to do is get in touch with the person in charge of the situation. If you are at a restaurant, ask to speak with the manager. If the service is provided away from a physical location, call the company and ask to speak with the person in charge.

Once you have the attention of someone in charge, coolly and calmly explain why you feel you deserve a refund. Explain why the service did not measure up to your expectations and flat out ask for your money back.

If you simply complain without asking for a refund, don't expect to get one. In most cases, the manager will try to keep as much money as possible for the company.

Getting a Refund for an Online Purchase

Online refunds can be a bit tricky because most websites make it difficult to figure out how they work. The first thing to do is search the website for their refund or returns policy. In hindsight, this is good practice before you make a purchase. If you can find the refund policy, it should explain exactly how to get your refund.

However, if the website hides its refund policy from you, the next best thing is to call the company directly. Unfortunately, many sites hide their customer service phone numbers, too! You can go to Google and search "*Company Name* customer service phone number" and many time you will find a contact number.

All you have to do now is ask the customer service person how to get a refund and follow their instructions. If they refuse, try the tips for getting a refund of a product from a physical store since they should work in this case as well. Keep in mind that return shipping costs for products are often not refundable, so it may not pay to ship an inexpensive item back. Forewarned is forearmed: check the website you’re considering using to see their return policy; if you cannot find it, or don’t like it, don’t deal with them.

Credit Cards: Your Last Line of Defense

Using a credit card can help you get a refund from an unscrupulous vendor, as many offer benefits such as return protection and damage protection. Depending on which credit card you used and which issuer issued it, you could have return protection for 60 to 90 days after you make a purchase. There can be price limits, which normally range about $250 to $300 per purchase and around $1,000 per year.

If you accidentally damage your new purchase within the first 90 days (for most issuers), check your card terms to see if you can get a refund or replacement. Note that there are many exclusions and details to the process, so read the fine print.

If you feel like you have been defrauded by a vendor, file a fraud claim with your credit card company. Almost every single credit card offers fraud protection and will fight for you if you can prove that you have fallen victim to fraud.

No matter where you purchased your item or service, following the guidelines above should increase your odds of getting a refund. Before you pull the trigger, be aware of the seller’s refund policy, and use a credit card for even more protection.

If you want more credit, check out MoneyTips' list of credit card offers.

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