Dear Consumer Ed: 

My husband and I purchased a latex mattress largely based on the recommendation of the store manager. I had never heard of the brand, but the next morning I read some very disturbing reviews about the mattress breaking down in six months. I called the store manager that same day and told him we wanted to cancel the order. Even though the mattress had not even left the warehouse yet, the manager flat out said, “No. All sales are final.”  My husband and I did not notice that policy written on the sales order or on the charge slip. Do you think a credit card chargeback would go through on something like this? 

Consumer Ed says: 

If you can provide documentation that the retailer was deceptive in some manner about the mattresses or that the retailer failed to honor its own explicit return policies, you may be able to successfully waive the charge through a credit card chargeback.  Unfortunately, in the circumstances you describe, you may not have a valid claim against the retailer, especially if its no-return policies were written on the sales order/charge slip.  In any case, you should check with your credit card provider to see what is needed to support a claim and request for chargeback.

When a retail sale is made at the retailer’s regular place of business, Georgia law does not require the retailer to provide a refund or accept returns or exchanges.  A business may set its own return policy and may offer consumers cash, in-store credit, exchanges or no adjustment at all.  While businesses are not required to post their policies, they must honor any posted refund or return policy.  Except in very limited circumstances, the law generally does not guarantee you the right to a refund or a three-day cancellation.

Prior to making any major purchases, you should ask questions, compare prices, and read ads, product reviews and the manufacturer’s warranty.  Whenever you purchase big-ticket items (especially things like mattresses), you should always get everything in writing, including all warranties, promises and return policies.  Always keep copies of contracts, receipts and warranties.  A manufacturer’s warranty may provide you with recourse if the mattress turns out to be defective. 

Finally, if the retailer misrepresented the quality of the mattress, or stated that the mattress was new when in fact it was actually used (or made with used materials), the retailer may be in violation of the Fair Business Practices Act.  In these circumstances, you can file a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection by calling 404-651-8600 or visiting www.consumer.ga.gov.

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