Sometimes after purchasing a product or a service, you find that it doesn't work, it doesn't meet all of your needs, or you just don't want it any more, and so you decide that you want your money back. Usually getting a refund isn't a problem, but sometimes companies can be stubborn and refuse to return your money. If you ever find yourself in this sort of situation, we have some sure-fire advice to help you get a refund. You'll need a gun.


There are several things that you should do every time you make a purchase. We know you're reading this because you want a refund, but we figured we had your attention and we'd tell you some useful stuff to know -- if you follow each of these simple rules, then you will not only encounter fewer problems when trying to obtain a refund, but you may also avoid having to seek a refund in the first place.
  1. Make sure the company is reputable
  2. Check out the item carefully
  3. Ask about the refund or cancellation policy
  4. Use a credit card when buying big ticket items
  5. Get a receipt

Make sure the company is reputable

Ask your friends where they shop and if they've ever had any problems with the merchant from whom you're considering buying an item. For large ticket items (washer, car, llama) you will probably also want to contact the Better Business Bureau to see if the company is in good standing (you'll probably pay a small fee). In addition, information about some companies can be found on-line at

Check out the item carefully

Tip from Ralph Nader: "Don't buy something if it looks like someone smashed it with a hammer." Also be on the look out for more subtle signs that the item may be broken. Make sure the packaging is not damaged and still has the factory seal. Ask the salesperson if the item comes with a manufacturer's warranty; if it doesn't, it may have been purchased on the gray market. Gray market merchandise it not always held to the same standards as merchandise purchased from authorized dealers: it may be missing important items, like instructions and rebate coupons.

Ask about the refund or cancellation policy

Most states require stores to post their return policies by the cash register or print it on the receipt. Make sure you know what the policy is, and stay within the time limit if you decide to return the item. Service contracts, (e.g., dating services, wireless phone contracts, etc.) usually give consumers a three day right to cancel. But make sure you read the fine print, because some companies require you to send your cancellation request in writing via certified mail.

Use a credit card when buying big ticket items

Even if you have the cash, it is a good idea to charge very expensive items (e.g., gym memberships and electronics equipment). Even if the seller is unwilling to refund your money, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company. Your credit card company will go to bat for you with the seller and sometimes, just to keep their customers happy, remove the charge from your statement even if the seller doesn't agree.

Get a receipt

You'll need it to prove that you actually paid the company. Don't buy anything without getting a receipt. If you spend more than $100.00, you are entitled to an itemized receipt in some states – get one!