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What is a Satisfaction Guarantee?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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A satisfaction guarantee is a claim from a store or producer of products which indicates that if purchasers are not completely satisfied with a product, they will be allowed to return it. In some industries and stores, the satisfaction guarantee is used as a marketing tool, indicating that the customer is the first priority, and that he or she can be assured of complete happiness. The terms of a satisfaction guarantee can get quite complex, and people should definitely read such claims carefully before purchasing or attempting to return an item.

Typically, a satisfaction guarantee includes a time restriction, which can vary from 30 to 90 days. Beyond this time window, it will not be possible to return the item. The guarantee may also include a clause to indicate that heavily used items will not be accepted for returns either, to discourage people from buying something, using it, and then trying to return it to get their money back. Even if a store has a blanket satisfaction guarantee, consumers should be aware that certain items may be exempt; underwear, for example, usually cannot be accepted for return unless it is defective.

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In some cases, customers can get cash back when they return an item which comes with a satisfaction guarantee. In other instances, they may be forced to return the item for store credit only. Some stores may even insist on supplying the customer with an identical version of the item, arguing that the satisfaction guarantee is only in force for defective or damaged items. A store may also charge a “re-stocking fee” for processing the return.

It is also not uncommon for a store or manufacturer to require proof of purchase with a return. People who are buying items with a satisfaction guarantee should keep this in mind, and consider asking for a gift receipt, in the event that the person who receives the item does not like it. Otherwise, it may not be possible to return the item, or the customer may be offered store credit only.

While buyer satisfaction would appear to be the reason to establish a satisfaction guarantee for a product, these claims are more often used as marketing tools, as people who have attempted to return supposedly guaranteed items have discovered. Customers may find that they have to jump through a number of hoops to get cash back, a rebate, or store credit, and some stores may explicitly refuse to honor a satisfaction guarantee, on grounds which may vary from “the item was bought at a different store” to “the box has been opened.”

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