Have you ever had buyer’s remorse? I like to live my life with no regrets—I am a true believer that every moment, both good and bad, has been integral to getting me to where I am today, which is a good place. But I have found myself from time to time feeling bouts of Downton Abbey-style anguish over a purchase I made. Buyer’s remorse typically occurs on higher-priced items where there is a long commitment made and where a lot of money has traded hands; however, I tend to feel it on small purchases and large purchases without bias. While my feelings usually revolve around remorse at not taking the opportunity to fatten up our savings account or to have the money to use for another purpose, there are many reasons why people feel buyer’s remorse, such as a change in employment situation, finding out that what was purchased was not a good of a deal as originally thought, not getting the kind of satisfaction you thought you would, purchasing on credit and realizing how long it will take to pay off, or a product defect of some sort.
The busiest shopping season of the year is upon us, starting two weeks ago on a day with such huge profits for retailers that it has been renamed Black Friday. In other words, it is the season ripe for feeling buyer’s remorse. There are two ways of dealing with these feelings: keeping the item and letting the feelings go, or returning the purchase. I’d like to help with the second.
Aside from such ridiculously fast return policies like the 15-minutes given consumers on Android Apps purchases, most stores have reasonable policies. Returning a defective item or an unwanted item in brand new condition can usually occur from between the moment you purchase the item up to potentially 90 days later. Remember that if you paid with a debit or credit card, you will typically need the card in addition to the receipt in order to be credited for the purchase.
Rescission Periods/Cooling Off Periods and Other Ways Out of Contracts
When Paul and I refinanced our mortgage earlier this year, we learned that there is a three-day rescission period in which we could have reneged on our contract and it would have been legally voided. Mortgage refinances or a line of credit/home equity loan using your principal property as collateral are not the only contracts that have a rescind period; timeshares do as well. Each state sets their own rules on the rescind period for timeshares, so if you got caught up in a timeshare presentation and would like to get out of your contract, check out your state’s consumer laws. For cell phone and car lease contracts, you can check out websites where another person assumes your contract. These sites include Swapalease.com and Leasetrader.com for cars, or CelltradeUSA.com for cell phone plans.
Price Protection and Refund Protection from Your Credit Card Company
If you purchased the item using a credit card, then you may have protective options available to you should returning the item to the original retailer not work. These programs typically allow you to receive a refund through the credit card company up to a certain dollar amount. On top of this policy, some credit cards also offer price protection plans. On two separate occasions after purchasing an item I have found an advertisement for the same item at $20 or so less than the purchase price I received. As it turns out, my credit card has a program called Price Protection where I supply the advertisement (within 60 days of the original purchase date), the model/information on what I purchased, and the receipt and they supply a refund to my credit card of the difference in price. What a great program! Here are the return policies for three major credit cards:
Price Protection could be especially lucrative around the holidays. Though I have not given this a try yet, if you purchase items before Christmas at full price and then search advertisements in the post-Christmas sales, you might get a substantial refund through your credit card company. For those of you who have tried this out or who decide to try it this year, please let us know how it goes in the comments below!
The best way to deal with buyer’s remorse is to prevent purchasing items you may not want. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, so this is not always possible. It’s nice to know that there are contingency plans for when we don’t make the best decisions at the store.
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