Special Report: Refund Rights

Updated: May. 9, 2018 at 4:53 PM CDT
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TRI-STATE (WFIE) - Would you return something you bought at a yard sale?

How about something you bought at a street fair?

Sites like Amazon make returns so easy, most of us have come to expect them.

However, there are some places you can't get refunds, no matter the reasons.

Driver Sam Swartz says he bought large tires from a used tire shop, and his Jeep made terrible noises.

"I got out. I had rubber all down the side of my vehicle, all built up inside the wheel well," said Sam.

That's because the huge tires Sam bought were sized for a Ford F-150, a truck nearly twice as big as his Jeep Patriot.

"The owner was even standing right there, and said to his mechanic, 'those look a little big,' and the mechanic still swore they would fit fine," said Sam. 
"You should never do that," said Anne Forristall Luke with the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association. "You should never put a tire on a vehicle that is improperly sized."

Luke says tires like that can fail catastrophically, coming apart while you're going down the road.

Now you're at risk for a crash that could injure you or somebody around you.

"No reputable tire dealer would ever try to push a consumer to put a tire of the wrong size on their vehicle that is not appropriate for their vehicle," said Luke.

When Sam returned to the tire shop, his Jeep peppered with tire fragments, he asked for his money back.

"I was shocked. I was shocked that he said he wouldn't give me money back," said Sam.

"They're used tires," said Brown's used tire shop owner, Greg Brown. "I mean. I'm going to get a return policy on used tires ,and somebody's going to take them off for some reason. There isn't a return policy on used tires."

Brown wouldn't go on camera, but told us over the phone his "no refund" policy stands, but he'd been working with Sam to exchange them.

"Oh yeah. That I had no problem with," said Brown.

We learned Tri-State retailers are under no legal obligation to accept them returns, unless that merchandise is defective.

In Sam's case, the tires weren't defective. They were simply the wrong size.

We also learned the burden is on him to know what the factory recommends for his vehicle. That information is printed on a placard in the door jamb. Every vehicle comes with one.

Sam didn't know about Brown's "no refund" policy either, until he tried to get one and couldn't.  He told us, he felt deceived.

We stopped at Brown's, and saw this big red sign right behind the register stating NO REFUNDS, which is more than the state requires.

"I'm still mad about it, but I take it as an experience, a learning experience, and trying to move forward," said Sam.

Our experts say - it's a good idea to ask lots of questions.
If you don't ask, then expect surprises.
If you ask and don't feel you're getting clear answers, walk away.
As for Sam, he told us, he's saving up for brand new tires.

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