| December 17, 2009

Restocking fees may put a dent in saving money

Though many consumers may be concentrating on saving money while doing their holiday shopping, they should keep in mind they could lose some bucks if they have to return an item.

A recent report from the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation based on a survey of 39 retailers noted that half of them charged a restocking fee for returned items, especially for products like electronics and furniture. A restocking fee is often subtracted from a product refund in order to offset the cost of retailers reselling an item after it has been opened.

“Consumers have been used to liberal return policies that provide 100 percent refunds when an item is returned, but we found more and more exceptions to the rule and that may come as a costly surprise to shoppers who did not check the store’s policy in advance,” Barbara Anthony, undersecretary for the office, said.

The examination by the office covered both online and brick-and-mortar retailers and found that typical restocking fees ranged from 10 to 25 percent, though some could be as high as 60 percent.

Restocking fees aren’t the only way consumers may end up losing out on saving money during the holiday season. Recent reports indicate that some retailers may advertise big-ticket items at a discount, only to have a limited stock in their stores.

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