- Product recalls are a part of modern life, but thankfully, they often come with the chance to get a refund (or a free repair).
- You can subscribe to recall emails from the federal government.
- Ensure you have your purchase information (such as an invoice or receipt, or failing that, your credit card statement), as you’ll likely need it.
Product recalls are pretty common, and if you get a recall notice for something you bought, it’s a good idea to follow up on it. Why? For one, if an item or product is recalled, it’s for a good reason — people have or could be harmed by it (such as by becoming ill, in the case of food recalls). And for another, you might have spent a nice chunk of money on the item in question, and if it’s no longer usable, getting that money put back in your checking account is worth it.
I want to be warm, but not to the point of getting burned
I was recently contacted by Amazon’s Product Safety and Recalls service about an electric blanket I purchased through the site last fall. It was a safety hazard, and other users had experienced theirs catching fire. In a few cases, people were even injured. I spent $46 on the blanket and was keen to get a refund from the manufacturer, especially since my cats and I had enjoyed using it. Thankfully, I didn’t experience any issues with mine.
I was required to cut the cord off the blanket, rendering it inoperable. Then I had to send in photos of the blanket’s model number and the cut-off cord to prove that it was no longer a fire hazard. This turned out to be an exercise in patience and persistence, however (more on that below). If you get a recall notice for a purchase you’ve made, here’s how to ensure you get your money back.
Steps to get a refund from a recall
Money is tight for many people right now, so it’s worth taking these steps to get your money back from a recalled product.
1. Find out about the recall and what to do
Unfortunately, based on where and how you acquired the item, you might not find out it’s been recalled. (Now there’s a thought to keep you up at night.) Some large retailers, like Amazon and Sam’s Club, will follow up with customers if an item they’ve bought has a recall notice. You can also subscribe to emails about recalls on consumer products through Recalls.gov.
Depending on what was recalled and the manufacturer/seller, the procedure to get your money back could vary. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has a useful database with information about recalls of all kinds, along with how to get in touch with manufacturers.
2. Find your purchase information
In most cases, you will need to actually prove you bought the item in question. For my blanket, this meant looking up my order number on Amazon and sending it to the manufacturer. If you don’t have a receipt or invoice, check out your credit card statements to find a record of the purchase.
3. Follow the procedure to get a refund (and follow up if you need to!)
In some cases, you may need to physically return the item to get your money back. In others, you might have to take photos showing that you destroyed or modified it to render it safe (or inoperable, in the case of my no-longer-electric blanket). If it’s a large item (like a car or other vehicle), you’ll likely have to bring it in for service. And for smaller items, you might only need to throw them away.
Persistence is important here
I initially had trouble submitting the documentation for the blanket, as the website for the manufacturer was slammed and not working properly. I ended up leaving myself a reminder to follow up the next day. Thankfully, I was finally able to get my refund. And now the non-electric blanket lives on my oldest cat’s favorite living room chair, so he can still enjoy it (safely).
A recall on, say, your car might be hard to forget, but a recall on a small home appliance could be hard to remember. So give yourself the best chance of getting that money back (and keeping your family safe) and follow up as needed.
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