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If I return something to the store to get a refund, is that equivalent to declaring the original sale a mekach ta’us, a mistaken sale, and the refund is returning the money which is rightfully mine? Or is it considered a new sale, wherein I sell the same item back to the original seller for the purchase price?

A practical difference might be if the store is allowed to refuse a refund. If it’s a reversal of the original sale, which was retroactively a mekach ta’us, the seller should have no right to refuse a refund. If it’s a new sale, the seller is under no obligation to buy the item back, and can therefore refuse the refund. (Obviously this refers to a case where the item is intact and able to be resold, where there are no Dina d’Malchusa considerations, and where the store doesn’t have a prior refund policy.)

  • Wouldn't one criterion of mekach ta’us be that there is "ta'ut" on the part of the seller? E.g. the product is damaged, so the owner sold the product mistakenly and is most likely required to refund. I don't think that the buyer has any implicit rights to return anything unless there's some explicit "try for X time and you can return for any reason." – DanF Apr 19 at 16:02
  • @DanF Not necessarily. If I buy a loaf of bread and think it’s wheat but it’s barley, that’s a mekach ta’us. – DonielF Apr 19 at 16:20
  • Sounds like the same type of case as above. Doesn't it matter who made the error? Isn't there an assumption of a bit more responsibility on the buyer than the seller? I.e. If I advertise selling you wheat bread and you assume I'm correct, but it is not wheat, I misled you (or made an error in some way.) In some way I was dishonest. But, if I did everything correct, and you bought the wrong item, why am I required to refund you for your mistake? – DanF Apr 19 at 17:09
  • @DanF I hear. Arguably what I’m proposing would be דברים שבלב - “had I known I wasn’t going to need this I wouldn’t have bought it.” – DonielF Apr 19 at 17:15
  • Wowi! A bit too much Complex Torah food so close to Pesach ;-) This is not quite an area that I'm familiar with. Maybe you want to edit in some info on what parameters are needed for mekach ta'ut? Normally, I wouldn't consider your "thought" error within that category. I.e., before you buy, you should know what you're doing and thinking. It's just that most U.S. businesses demo Midot "Hassidut" that allows customers to return almost any unused item for any reason and even w/o explanation. (Costco is most generous - you can return a partially used item.) – DanF Apr 19 at 17:47
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Actually, it is a Machlokes how to see it:

  • Some see it as a stipulation of the sale, and if broken, the sale is off. Not Mekach Tous, but an agreed condition, for example - "if the book doesn't please your wife, the deal's off", or "you have 14 days to decide on this deal while the item's at your disposal".

    In this case, not Meshichah finalizes the deal, but either the time period (14 days is the law in Israel) or actual use of an item.

  • Some say, the sale is final and Meshicha Kona, but the condition is that the business will buy it back in a certain period of time.

The difference between the two approaches is who does the item belong in between - in the first case the sale wasn't final and all that time the item belongs to the business, in the second, the item is in the buyer's possession.

Some credit cards claim that when paid with a credit card, the item is in the CC company possession until cleared (up to a month later).

  • Who are these "some"s? – msh210 Apr 20 at 20:32
  • WHy downvote? Can you elaborate on what's wrong with the answer? Or you just "don't like it"? – Al Berko Apr 20 at 20:49
  • I didn’t downvote, but I agree with msh’s question: you aren’t providing any information which I don’t already say in my question. If you defined “some” in each of your bullet points, this would be a great answer. – DonielF Apr 22 at 1:38
  • I present you with two different approaches of resolving refund and the differences between them. Where exactly is it in your question? I'm not a Halachah Guy, I'm a strategist, my approach is to outline the solution and let the other fill the rest. I don't really care who said that, but we had a wild discussion about that in the Kolel and those are the conclusions. Ask your Rabbi about the sources. – Al Berko Apr 22 at 8:41

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