Say I buy a food item at a supermarket and later discover it was opened. I then am unsure whether I opened it or not. Is one allowed to return it if there is doubt (one is not completely sure) that one may have forgotten and opened it?

A second example is say I buy an item that I believe to be kosher. I then realize it is not kosher after opening it but just before eating it. Is one allowed to return this item as well or should it just be thrown out because it was the fault of the consumer for not being more careful?

  • 2
    Your first question will depend on the company's return policy.
    – Double AA
    Aug 26, 2014 at 3:25
  • Agree with Double AA - Opened items are normally not returnable unless defective, but many places see customer service as top of the priority list and so are willing to accept returns, even of opened items. The question becomes whether you are allowed to benefit from the store's generous policy. Presumably this would only be acceptable on a one-off basis. To exploit the policy on a frequent basis strikes me as being dubious.
    – Epicentre
    Aug 26, 2014 at 4:38
  • To make things very simple ,is just ask the store owner/manager, this usually solves all doubts.
    – sam
    Feb 3, 2019 at 4:47
  • Putting aside store policy and Dina d’Malchusa, why isn’t this a classic case of המוציא מחברו? Particularly since, if the owner claims that they’d never sell an open bag, you possibly end up with ברי ושמא ברי עדיף.
    – DonielF
    Mar 5, 2019 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


R Avrohom Ehrman (The laws of interpersonal relations, from p. 399) has a chapter devoted to the laws of returning objects. The summary is that sales are final unless the seller willingly accepts the item in return, and the buyer is forbidden to pressure him to do so. In your case, you are permitted to return the objects but would have to tell the seller what happened and see if he is willing to accept the return.

Specifically, R Ehrman writes

  • To "reverse" a sales transaction is, in reality, to perform an entirely new transaction, in which the item is actually sold back to the original seller
  • This new sale is like any other transaction, both parties must agree to it, and each one is forbidden to pressure the other to conclude a sale against his will
  • If the prevailing practice in the locality is to accept returns, or if the parties make an explicit agreement at the time of the sale to allow returns, then it is permitted

He then lists a varies of reasons one could return merchandise (e.g., defective merchandise, mistaken amounts, damaged food products)

  • If the item had been open already it would be a Mekach Taut not a return transaction, no?
    – Double AA
    Feb 3, 2019 at 14:13
  • But in this question the fault (or at least a reasonable amount of probability) is with the buyer not the seller. I understand mekach taut as a faulty product or transaction but see the title of the question
    – mbloch
    Feb 3, 2019 at 14:16
  • This seems to be a Safek Mekach Taut if there is such a thing. He's not sure if it came open or he opened it.
    – Double AA
    Feb 3, 2019 at 14:17
  • Right, so you can't go back and return it stam. You have to tell the seller of the doubt and see if he is willing to accept a return. The second case in the question is clearer: the buyer made a mistake, the seller didn't, it can still be returned if the seller is willing to agree to it.
    – mbloch
    Feb 3, 2019 at 14:20
  • How do you know you need the seller's permission for a Safek Mekach Taut? Maybe you can return it and let him try and prove you wrong
    – Double AA
    Feb 3, 2019 at 14:57

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