Dear Consumer Ed:
We purchased a block of 30 visits to a doggy daycare. Tragically, our puppy had to be put down shortly after. The owner of the doggy daycare refused to refund the balance (several hundred dollars) citing a no refunds policy. I have no other pets, am I just out the money?
Consumer Ed says:
Georgia law doesn’t require businesses to provide a refund or accept returns or exchanges, which means they can set their own return/refund policies. These policies may offer consumers a cash refund, store credit, or exchange, or they may prohibit returns of any kind. Except in very limited circumstances, the law generally does not guarantee you the right to a refund or a three-day cancellation.
Even so, there are a few circumstances under which you might be entitled to a refund. Stores must honor the terms of their return policies. So if a business has a return policy that provides for refunds, and if you abided by the terms of that policy, then the store is obligated to issue you a refund.
Alternatively, if the doggie daycare received the benefit of your money without having to provide the services for which you paid, you may have a claim for unjust enrichment (which is another way of saying that the daycare unfairly profited at your expense). You should seek legal advice about your individual situation; if you can’t afford your own lawyer, contact your local legal aid office or consider using your local magistrate court.
If you believe that the daycare didn’t adequately disclose the terms and conditions of its refund policies, or that those policies were otherwise unfair or deceptive, you can file a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection at www.consumer.georgia.gov or by calling 1-800-869-1123. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting ftc.gov or calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
The best way to protect yourself in future transactions of this kind is to inquire into a company’s refund policies prior to making a purchase, and to ask for those policies in writing.
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