Julie McInnis and her husband are big internet users. Last Christmas, they went on line to buy each other scooters! "OK, so I'm a big kid," Julie admits.
The problem is that one of the scooters was a lemon! "Within less than 5 minutes and less that half a mile of riding, a part sheared off the scooter and it actually would not go forward," Julie says.
And to top that, Julie says the company wouldn't give her a refund. So back to the computer she went. But this time, she logged on to the Alabama Attorney General's home page.
"I figured I would have to go downtown, fill out forms and sign papers, but there was a complaint form online," Julie says.
"When we get a complaint, we send a copy of it to the merchant and we try to mediate," explains Assistant Attorney General Jeff Long. "We ask them, can you resolve this?"
The complaint process is free and if it doesn't work, the attorney general's consumer protection division may elect to take legal action. They also keep records of the number of complaints so you can find out if a company is on the up and up.
In Julie's case, that wasn't necessary. Once the company got word the attorney general was involved, they promptly issued her a refund. So what did she and her husband do with the cash? They bought a better scooter, of course! "We only got one, but that's ok, he can walk," Julie laughed.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when trying to return a defective product:
Make sure you're aware of the store's policy. If they tell you up front that you can't return an item, then you may be out of luck.
If you used a credit card, you might want to stop payment until the dispute is resolved.
Make sure you save all your receipts and document all your actions, in case you need to prove yourself in court.