Jun 11, 2007
She’s not sold on shop’s policyBy Jeffrey L. SeglinOCRegister.com

I’m not what you would call an ardent shopper. OK, I’ll be honest, I pretty much loathe shopping of any sort.

A letter from a reader in Huntington Beach reminds me why. Apparently there is a gift shop in a mall outside Los Angeles that sells imported decorative items. Nothing in the shop is priced, however. If you like something, you have to ask a salesperson how much it costs.

That’s what my reader did when she found an item that she liked. After being told that it cost $65, she told the clerk that she wanted to find her husband before purchasing it. Before she could leave, however, the salesman began lowering the price in $5 increments – but only if she bought the item right then. She purchased it for $50.

“In the excitement of the purchase,” she writes, “I did not notice the handwritten signs stating ‘No Returns,’ and I did not see it printed on my receipt.”

Alas, after the item had hung on her wall at home for a few days, her husband decided that it didn’t go with their decor. It was only then, when she got out the receipt preparing to return the item, that she saw the notation that “All Sales Are Final.”

She felt foolish, and let the matter lie for several weeks before she summoned up the courage to call the store. After she had explained her predicament, the saleswoman reiterated the store’s policy, but told my reader that she could exchange the item for something of equal value.

“We did go in and look,” she writes. “But we weren’t in the mood just to get something. Besides, since nothing is priced, I wouldn’t know how fair the exchange was.”

My reader believes that she’s entitled to a refund. Is the store ethically bound to give her one?

I think not. There are signs in the store announcing that all sales are final, a message that is also printed on receipts. There is nothing defective about the item. The store is nonetheless willing to let my reader exchange her item for something else. That strikes me as more than fair.

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