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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > February 2017 > Know Your Consumer Rights: Shopping Rights and Tips

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Know Your Consumer Rights: Shopping Rights and Tips

Whether reading a store ad, shopping online, or making a purchase at a retail store, you are likely protected by Ohio’s consumer protection laws. The Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (“CSPA”) and its related rules operate to maintain a fair marketplace for consumers.

To help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a shopper, we’ve outlined a few key elements of Ohio’s consumer protection laws.

Failure to Deliver

Ohio’s CSPA says that it is deceptive for a seller to accept money and not deliver goods or services. Generally, within eight weeks of payment, the seller must deliver the goods or services; provide a full refund; tell the customer about the delay and offer to send a refund within two weeks, or substitute similar goods or services of equal or greater value.

For example, if a consumer purchased a refrigerator from a retailer, it would be deceptive for that retailer to accept money for that appliance and not deliver the refrigerator.

Gift Cards

In general, if you have a single-store gift card, it cannot expire or be assessed fees within two years of the card issue date, according to Ohio law. If a gift card has no expiration date, it is generally valid until redeemed or replaced with a new card. However, some exceptions apply. Ohio’s Gift Card Act does not apply to gift cards that are issued as part of an awards, loyalty, or promotional program where the consumer gives no money for the card or to cards that are usable with multiple retailers such as mall cards, bank-branded gift cards, and credit-branded gift cards.

Also, if a company shuts down before you redeem your gift card, you may not be able to get your money back. To avoid this, only purchase gift cards from reliable companies that you trust, and try to redeem your gift cards as soon as possible.


In a layaway arrangement the seller agrees to hold goods for the buyer and delivers the goods based on a payment arrangement. If a consumer enters into a layaway agreement for $500 or less, the consumer can cancel at any time if the agreement is in writing. If the layaway arrangement is more than $500, the consumer must receive a copy of the written contract upon first payment. Consumers also may cancel at any time but this cancellation must be in writing. In addition, if the consumer cancels within the first five days, the consumer cannot be penalized and the down payment, deposit, or partial payment must be returned.

Refund Policies

Stores are not required to provide refunds or to have any specific type of return policy under Ohio law. Always ask about a store’s refund policy up front before making a purchase. If a store has a refund policy, it must be clearly and conspicuously posted. Look for policies on signs in the stores, on the backs of receipts, and on an internet seller’s website. It is not acceptable for a refund policy to be printed only on the receipt because the customer sees the receipt after the purchase has been made.

Rain Checks

Consumers may be entitled to a rain check if a seller advertises goods or services at a certain price and sells out before the consumer has had a chance to purchase the product at that price. A rain check will allow the consumer to purchase the advertised product or service at a later date for the sale price. However, some exclusions apply. If the seller clearly and conspicuously discloses the number of goods available or that the merchandise is limited and no rain checks will be given, the seller is not required to issue a rain check. In addition, the rain check requirement does not apply if the seller allows the consumer to purchase a similar item of equal or greater value at the same savings event. A rain check must be honored within 60 days after issue. Once the seller notifies the consumer that the item is back in stock, the consumer has 14 days to redeem the rain check.

Restocking Fees

Some sellers charge consumers restocking fees for returning certain items, most commonly electronics or special-order products. A restocking fee may limit a customer’s ability to receive a full refund for a returned item. Sellers may charge restocking fees, but these fees must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed up front.

Be sure to read future issues of the “Consumer Advocate” for more articles in the “Know Your Rights” series. 

To report a scam or unfair business practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by visiting or calling 800-282-0515.