Deal spotter Scott of Minneapolis recently tried to return a few unopened bottles of cranberry juice to Aldi. The store refused to accept them, saying it was against the law. "Is this true?" he asked.
No, there is no state law that prohibits a customer from returning perishable items to grocery stores, said Mike Schommer, director of communications at the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture, but the department encourages stores not to restock those items in case the product was mishandled.
Most stores allow returns of items with a receipt, although some perishables such as meat or produce may not be returnable at some stores. Call for specifics at the store where you plan to make the return. Aldi does not allow unopened items to be returned, said divisional vice-president Gordon Nesbit, although opened items deemed unsatisfactory may be.
Items that a consumer deems unsatisfactory are also returnable. Aldi, for example, offers a double guarantee that they will replace an item and refund its price if a customer is dissatisfied (Non-food special buys exempted). Customers with receipts always have the greatest success but even without a receipt many stores will give store credit, especially if the item is a store brand or has a store's labeling on it.
Common sense tells us that any item returned for poor quality should be nearly whole or uneaten. If a person brings in two slices of moldy bread in the loaf wrapper and expects a return, that seems over the line.
If you're unsure if your return is reasonable, call the store and ask. Be aware that stores will almost always toss returned items for safety reasons.
Sometimes, it's better to call the manufacturer than the supermarket. I recently purchased some microwave popcorn that was excessively greasy. Trying to ask for a refund at the supermarket seemed inappropriate when I had eaten one of the three bags. So I called the manufacturer who gladly sent me a coupon for replacement after asking for a bunch of numbers off the box. (No, I wasn't asked to send in the uneaten portion.)
Have you had any trouble returning unused or unsatisfactory food at local stores?