Q: When consumers buy goods from a seller and then decide to return them, if a credit note is issued for the their value, can the retailer decide the validity period of the credit note? If consumers do not use the credit note by the stipulated expiry date, can the retailer refuse to accept it?
If this happens the value of the credit note is lost. In such cases the retailer would have gained the full value of the credit note without giving anything back to the consumer. Is this legal? Does the law stipulate for how long a credit note should remain valid?
A: When consumers return a product to the seller not because it is defective or is not as agreed in the contract of sale, but because they made a wrong buying decision, legally, consumers are not entitled to claim a free remedy from the seller. Fortunately, in such situations consumers are offered the possibility to exchange the unwanted product with something else or get a credit note. Such credit notes are not regulated by consumer legislation and therefore it is up to sellers to decide whether they want to impose an expiry date on the use of the credit note and any other conditions on how the credit note can be used by the consumer.
Once the consumer is in possession of the credit note, they are responsible to read and observe its terms and conditions. Hence, consumers must make sure that they utilise credit notes while they are still valid. Once a credit note expires, consumers risk losing the value of the credit note.
Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority
Office for Consumer Affairs
MCCAA office hours for the public:
Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 12.30pm
European Consumer Centre Malta
(For complaints against traders in other EU states)
47A, South Street,
Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 3pm.
Tel: 2122 1901
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