Stores can ask for ID in refund transaction


POSTED: Thursday, February 05, 2009

Question: Is it legal for Ross Store to input your driver's license number into the computer when you ask for a cash refund for a cash payment? I bought something, but returned it within a half-hour because it wasn't what I wanted. The clerk wanted my ID and inputted my license number into the computer. I asked why, and she said they needed to do that. But why? It was a cash transaction and I had the receipt.

Answer: There is no prohibition against a merchant requesting identification before giving out a refund. However, neither is there anything in the state's refund and exchange law that authorizes it, said Stephen Levins, executive director of the Office of Consumer Protection.

According to a Ross spokeswoman, you were asked for your driver's license number because you returned the item so quickly.

The company uses a refund verification system. But if someone returns an item the same day it was purchased, the system doesn't have enough time to record that information, said Bobbi Chabille, speaking from Ross headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif.

“;That's why, when (cashiers) punch it in, something comes up on the screen that says 'need ID verification,'”; she said.

The period when such verification is required might vary according to when the purchase was made and when it was recorded in the system. If you had returned it a couple of days later, you likely would not have been asked for your ID, Chabille said.

She also pointed out the return/exchange policy is stated on the back of all receipts.

Among other things, customers are advised to keep receipts on all returns or exchanges because there is a limit to the number of “;no-receipted refunds”; allowed. Also: “;A valid picture ID (Driver's License, State Photo ID, Passport or Military ID) may be required and will be entered into the system for refunds.”;

In Hawaii, refunds are governed by Hawaii's refund and exchange law, Levins said.

He emphasized that he was speaking generally and not specifically about Ross because he did not have all the facts about your transaction.

“;While there is no prohibition on requesting identification, if a merchant requests an ID, it should be considered a request and not a requirement, because the refund and exchange law does not make any allowance for it,”; Levins said.

If a consumer has an item and receipt and the merchandise is in otherwise acceptable condition, “;the law does not authorize the merchant to require an ID check as a condition for processing a return,”; he said.

That includes merchants requesting addresses and phone numbers.

“;If a law requires a merchant to accept merchandise back, (they) can't add conditions that the law doesn't allow them to make,”; Levins said.

If you would like to pursue your complaint, you can call the Office of Consumer Protection at 587-3222.

You can get more information about the state's “;Return of Merchandise”; law at dcca/areas/ocp/brochures/ merchandise.


Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).