Shopping Rights

This document is intended to provide consumers with information regarding a specific topic. It is not meant to provide comprehensive information. For further questions, please contact the Consumer Affairs Division at (617) 635-3834.

Store Policies

  • Refund, Returns: In Massachusetts, state law requires merchants to clearly display the store's refund, return or cancellation policy. This means a merchant must post a written return policy where a buyer can see and read it prior to any purchase. The merchant can chose any return policy, provided the policy is disclosed to the buyer before the purchase. See M.G.L. 93A, section C for more information about the legal responsibilities.

  • Defective Merchandise: Defective merchandise is not covered by the refund or return policy. A merchant can not use its return policy to refuse the return of defective merchandise.

  • Merchandise Credits: When a merchant issues a merchandise credit for returned goods, you have at least five (5) years from the date of the issue to redeem the credit.

  • Gift Certificates: When you have a gift certificate to use, you have at least two (2) years from the date of the purchase to redeem the certificate.

Truth in Advertising & Sales

  • Disclosure: Under state law, a merchant must tell you about any fact that may influence your decision to enter into a transaction.

  • Bait & Switch: Merchants may not use bait and switch tactics. Examples of Bait & Switch tactics -

    • Refusing to sell you the advertised product pursuant to the original offer;

    • Discrediting the original offered product;

    • Claiming there are insufficient supplies of the offered product;

    • Refusing to deliver the product in a reasonable time.

  • Out of Stock or RainCheck: A merchant must have enough of advertised merchandise available to meet reasonable expected demand. If the store is out of stock, it generally has to provide you with a "raincheck"

  • Sales: To use the term "sale" in an advertisement, the savings have to be at least 10% for items regularly priced $200.00 dollars or less and at least 5% for more expensive products.


  • Non Grocery Stores: Stores must mark items with the actual selling price.

  • Food and Grocery Stores: The Massachusetts Item Pricing Law requires food and grocery stores to individually mark most items with the actual selling price. There are some exceptions.

Cooling Off Periods
Contrary to popular belief, generally you do not have a 3-day cooling off period to cancel the purchase of an item, except in very limited circumstances. Below are some of the limited areas where there is a cooling off period.

  • Door to Door Sales

  • Health Club Contract

  • Time Shares

  • Credit Repair and Services Organizations

Buying By Mail Order, Telephone, Television and Computer

  • Be sure to carefully read all advertisements for items offered by mail. Don't forget to add in shipping and handling charges.

  • The Federal Trade Commission Mail Order rule requires a company to ship your order within the time frame promised in its advertisement. If no specific time was promised, the company must ship your order within 30 days of receiving your order.

Unsolicited Merchandise

  • If you receive merchandise that you did not order or request, you may consider the merchandise to be an unconditional gift. You may use or dispose of it as you wish without any obligation to the sender.

Fair Credit Billing Act
This federal law protects consumers using a credit card to make purchases.

  • Always check your credit card monthly statement. If you find an error, you can dispute the charge and withhold payment on the disputed amount while the credit card company investigates.

  • To protect your rights under this law you must send a written error notice to the creditor. Your notice must reach the creditor within 60 days. . The creditor must acknowledge your complaint with 30 days after it is received, unless the problem has been resolved.


  • Update to Live Entertainment Hearing Requests

    All live entertainment hearing requests may be scheduled after Boston Licensing Board hearings, while license application is pending at the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC). In the interest of public efficiency, establishments should, if possible, be able to pick up both their liquor and entertainment licenses at the same time.

    Also, we welcome any suggestions from licensees regarding how we may better serve our public. It is our intention to make your experience with the Entertainment Division one that is pleasant, professional and courteous. Welcome to Boston! Christine A. Pulgini, Esq. Executive Director

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