It’s the week after Christmas (or any time of the year). Some of the questions dancing around the minds of customers include, “I wonder what the refund or exchange policy is at (your store’s name here)?” “Can I get a refund?” “An exchange?” “A store credit?” While there are a few federal laws and related guidelines governing returns, states often have additional laws related to return policies.


Policies vs. Laws

Many retailers have decided that customer-friendly return policies are the best business practice. In most instances, those are marketing decisions, not legal requirements.

Federal laws and regulations

  • Retailers are required to accept returns only if the sold good is defective or if the seller breaks the sales contract
  • Federal law provides a “cooling-off rule ” giving buyers three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more
  • Buyer can cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale.
  • The rule applies to sales at the buyer’s home or workplace, at facilities rented by the seller on a temporary basis, or at locations otherwise away from the seller’s normal retail location.

State laws and regulations

In addition to applicable federal law, many states have additional regulations regarding consumer refunds. Often, refund policies must be prominently displayed at the place of purchase in order to be valid.

  • Other fees, such as restocking fees, normally must be made clear in the retailer’s policy language.
  • Additionally, states may or may not explicitly apply their laws to online sales.

This lists summaries of state laws governing refunds of retail sales items. The state name is linked to more information found on the state’s website.

Alabama No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Alaska No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Arizona No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Arkansas No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
California Retailer’s are required to clearly post their refund policy unless they offer a full cash refund, exchange, or store credit within seven days of the purchase date. retailer’s failing this requirement are required to accept full refunds within 30 days of purchase.
Colorado No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Connecticut Each retailer may set its own refund policy, which must be conspicuously disclosed at the time of sale. If the policy isn’t properly disclosed, or if the retailer doesn’t have a refund policy, a buyer may return purchased goods for a refund.
Delaware No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Florida retailer’s that don’t offer refunds must clearly display this fact at the place of sale. Failing this requirement, customers may return goods for a full refund within 20 days of purchase.
Georgia No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Hawaii Each retailer may set its own refund policy, which must be conspicuously disclosed at the time of sale. If the policy isn’t properly disclosed, merchants are required to provide refund.
Idaho No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Illinois No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Indiana No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Iowa There’s no right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. If retailer’s don’t accept returns they must disclose it.
Kansas No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Kentucky No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Louisiana No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Maine No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Maryland Retailers must post their return policies on the wall, on the merchandise or on the receipt. If policy isn’t posted, retailer must accept returned merchandise within reasonable time.
Massachusetts A seller’s refund, return, or cancellation policy must be disclosed to the buyer clearly and conspicuously before the transaction is completed. A sign at the point of purchase is typical means. Goods may be returned within reasonable period of time if no return policy was disclosed.
Michigan No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Minnesota A seller must clearly and conspicuously display written notice of its policy (14-point, boldface type). If a seller fails this requirement, cash refunds are required of goods that are acceptable for return.
Mississippi No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Missouri No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Montana No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Nebraska No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Nevada No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
New Hampshire No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
New Jersey Merchants must post their refund policies conspicuously. Businesses with no posted refund policies are liable to the buyer, for up to 20 days from purchase, for a cash refund or a credit.
New Mexico No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
New York A store is legally required to post its refund policy. If the store doesn’t post any return policy, the law requires the store to accept returns within 30 days of purchase.
North Carolina No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
North Dakota No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Ohio A merchant isn’t required to have a specific refund policy, but if it does have a refund policy, the policy must be clearly and conspicuously posted. If a merchant doesn’t have a refund policy posted, the consumer is entitled to a refund.
Oklahoma No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Oregon No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Pennsylvania No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Rhode Island Unless a customer has been clearly informed by a poster or other appropriate notice placed at the point of display or at the cash register or at the store entrance that all sales are final and that goods aren’t returnable, a customer who has paid for an item can return the item within ten business days from the date of purchase.
South Carolina No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
South Dakota No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Tennessee No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Texas No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Utah If seller has a non-refund, exchange, or credit policy, the policy must be clearly indicated by a sign posted at the point of display, the point of sale, or the store entrance. If the seller fails this requirement, the customer is entitled to a return.
Vermont No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Virginia A merchant must notify its customers of its return policy by a sign attached to the goods or placed in a conspicuous public area of the merchant’s premises. A merchant is exempt from this requirement if it provides a cash or credit refund within 20 days or more of purchase.
Washington No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
West Virginia No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Wisconsin No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.
Wyoming No legal right to cancel contracts or purchase agreements. Refund depends on retailer’s policies.

(Sources: Federal Trade Commission, National Association of Attorneys General, FindLaw.com State Consumer Protection Agencies)