Updated: January 21, 2012 8:11AM
Dear Fixer: A month ago, for my 80th birthday, my daughter bought me a clock radio at Brookstone. The sound was poor. I took it back to Brookstone four days after the purchase.
The clerk, who was also the store manager, said he knew the quality was not good. However, even though I had the receipt, he refused to give me a cash refund.
He said the Brookstone policy was to issue a store credit. The information on the reverse of the receipt clearly stated otherwise. He gave me the store credit even though I have no interest in being forced to buy something else there.
I contacted Brookstone’s “customer service” about a month ago and they have been ignoring my series of e-mails ever since.
Jack Cain, Winnetka
Dear Jack: The Fixer barely broke a sweat on this one. You were clearly in the right, as Brookstone’s own website (not to mention the back of the receipt you still had) states that returns made within 30 days with an original receipt are entitled to a cash refund.
We took this to Brookstone’s public relations person and in less than an hour, you received a letter from the office of the president promising you a check in exchange for the $87.39 store credit. Soon after, they voided the card and sent out the check.
Brookstone also told us they’d review the return policy with the store to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Many happy returns
Jack’s problem is timely because we’re coming up on the season of gift returns. Holiday shoppers, be very careful about return policies, because each store has the right to set its own policy — or forbid returns entirely.
So … always get a gift receipt and be alert to hefty restocking fees or shorter time periods for certain items, especially electronics. For a rundown of the stores with the best and worst retail return policies, check out ConsumerWorld.org.
No sale to scammer
We love how Fixer column readers stick up for one another. Here’s a warning about a scam from reader Scott Sinclair, who recently listed an iPod Touch on Craigslist.
Scott soon was contacted by “Candice,” who claimed that she lived in Canada and would like to buy Scott’s iPod. Scott said he’d only sell it if she would send a cashier’s check that would clear or a payment through PayPal.
Candice agreed and then e-mailed Scott a realistic-looking PayPal confirmation about her supposed payment for the iPod. She then pressed Scott to ship the iPod immediately. But Scott didn’t see anything in his account, and when he checked with PayPal’s fraud department, they said the confirmation e-mail was a fake.
That’s when Scott decided to waste his scammer’s time.
“Hi there,” Scott e-mailed the scammer. “Bad news, my next-door neighbors, Fred and Wilma Flintstone, offered me $250 for the item for their daughter, Pebbles (she is going to school to be a geologist!). I am tempted to take their offer but would be willing to still send the item to you (since I bought postage already). If you would be willing to beat their offer, say $275 (plus $28.33 for shipping), I could stick it in the mail today.”
“Candice” agreed to the higher price and again lied about having sent the money for the iPod.
The scammer clearly never watched American television as a kid, because next, Scott said he was delayed in sending the iPod because he was hit by a mail truck on the way to the post office (but not to worry — he has a great lawyer named Perry Mason and is in the capable hands of Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard).
This went around and around a few more times, with Scott’s clueless scammer continuing to demand the iPod. Finally, Scott said he sent it … and the tracking number was “7.”
Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at www.newssunonline.com, where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem.