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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, December 22, 2000

set their own
return policies

Question: Now that this is Christmas and a lot of people probably will be returning gifts, can you address the question of refunds? If you have a receipt and the item is non-perishable, can a store refuse to accept it back if it is not returned within 30 days?

Answer: It depends on what the store's policy is and whether or not it is "conspicuously posted."

According to the state Office of Consumer Protection, merchants can set their own policies within the bounds of the state's return of merchandise law.

That means the store's return policy must be conspicuously posted. If there are no conspicuous signs, the law requires merchants to accept the return of goods and provide a refund.

You are advised, however, to ask a clerk to show you any relevant signs and to explain the store's policy to you first.

We found an explanation of the law at the Office of Consumer Protection's Web site:

Under the law, merchants may establish one of four return policies:

Bullet Refunds only
Bullet Refunds or merchandise credit only
Bullet Exchanges or merchandise credit only
Bullet No refunds, merchandise credits or exchanges

The law does not apply to merchandise brought back more than 60 days after purchase. If the store has a return policy of less than 60 days, it must post a specific notice of the shorter time limit. Also, a merchant may exclude a certain category or type of merchandise from its return policy, but again, it must post one or more conspicuous signs saying so.

If a store issues merchandise credits, you may still be eligible for a refund. Say you cannot find a substitute item within 30 days of the return, then you are entitled to a cash refund UNLESS a conspicuous sign is posted saying otherwise.

Merchandise credits must be valid for a minimum of two years.

Merchants may not charge or deduct restocking fees for processing refunds, credits or exchanges, except regarding certain custom orders if the deduction is disclosed prior to purchase.

Save your receipts because merchants may require proof of purchase before accepting a return. Without a receipt, some stores offer only a reduced refund (at a sale price) or may refuse to accept a return.

These are the basic components of the state law. If you want more details, check the Office of Consumer Protection's Web site or call 586-3222 for a brochure.


All I want for Christmas is for the city or state transportation departments to synchronize the traffic lights for left turns along Kalanianaole Highway to Ainakoa, Waialae Iki, Aina Haina, etc. I realize that during rush hours the priority is along the highway. But after 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m., the timer should not be long to wait for the green arrow lights to change when there is NO TRAFFIC going west. Waiting for the light to change when there are no vehicles coming is ridiculous. -- No name


To Lt. Charles Chong of HPD, Jane Nantkes and the repairman of Verizon for their efforts in resolving my 911 connection. Their expertise and professionalism truly assures me and my family that we are one big ohana. Caring is sharing. My parents purchased new equipment in confidence. -- Cynthia

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to

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