Options to Deal with Buyer’s Remorse

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.

Refund Policies

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.

Other Articles You May Enjoy:

Surprising Return Policies
Holiday Hangover: 23 Things to do Instead of Spending Money
Legacy gifts will Last Longer than Store Bought Ones

9 comments… add one

  • Sheenu

    Prior to Black Friday , i make a quick list of things i want to buy and then i think about them for a week and make final picks. I always go with cash so i know how much i have to spend and no credit card payments need to be made. This allows me to think how much i need these items so only really good items end up coming home!.

    • FruGal

      Hello Sheenu!

      It is a great idea to sit on a list of things you want for a period of time and see if you still end up wanting them at the end. Thank you for sharing!

  • You could also turn around and re-sell the item yourself. Even if you don’t get as much back, at least you’ll re-coup some of the costs. A few months ago, I found a great deal on a tablet. I gave it a shot, and while it’s a great device and it works well, I looked at it and realized that I just don’t use it all that often, and certainly not enough to justify the money I put into it. So, I’m starting the process of selling it. I spent $200 on it, and I think I could get $150-175. Still sucks to lose that money but getting 75% or more back is better than stashing it in a drawer and getting nothing for it only to find it after it’s completely obsolete.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Is Our Emergency Fund Redundant?

    • FruGal

      Hi Money Beagle!

      That is definitely an option worth pursuing, and at least now you know that you are not a tablet person (I don’t have one either).

  • My fiance and I moved to a new apartment and in the process had to buy furniture and all the essentials (we were staying in a furnished place before). I nearly had an anxiety attack over buying a comforter set because all the prices were much more than I expected to spend. Luckily, in this case, my fiance and I talked about how it made more sense to pay a little more for something that would last for the next ten years than to spend less on something that could be falling apart in the next year. So when we got it home the buyer’s remorse went away pretty quickly. It’s tough to know when you’re being frugal and when you’re just thinking about what’s best for the short-term, but understanding your contingency options like the ones you mentioned above is a huge help!
    Shannon-ReadyForZero recently posted..Blogger of the Month: Planting Our Pennies

  • I have had buyer’s remorse from time to time, back in my earlier spending habits. Sometimes I waited too long in order to return something, so I would just sell it on Ebay or Craigslist. Though I wouldn’t make my money back, I would still get rid of the item and have some money back. Buyer’s remorse is no good.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Students: How to Finish College with No Debt

    • FruGal

      Hi Grayson! That is definitely a way to get some of your money back (and save yourself from the remorse part).

      Thank you for sharing.

  • Gotta say, I have no shame utilizing the return policy to avoid buyer’s remorse. That’s what it’s there for!
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Desire Is The Cause Of Suffering

  • I don’t always fall prey to buying something I’d feel guilty about later on. But there are just these isolated moments of wanting something. I know I should heed the nagging doubts to avoid buyer’s remorse later. Yet sometimes, I’m just too weak.:-)
    CreditDonkey recently posted..Financial Literacy for Kids: Good Parental Money Values? Priceless

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge