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May 2008

Example Return Policies for Retail Purchase

As mentioned in previous blogs, I offered to show you a variety of Return Policies from other artists or small businesses.  Next time you go to a gallery, or any small business, look for their Return Policy as an example. The goal for small business owners (such as an artist or gallery) is to balance the importance of satisfying your client against the cost and inconvenience associated with merchandise returns.

(Before we go any further, I think it is important to establish that I am not including Return Policies from chains or major stores as an example. Their business structure and financial stability differ significantly from the small business owner.)

  (Read the previous blogs about Return Policies for more information on the topic.

Here are some examples of Return Policies for retail purchases that I found online from other artists and galleries.

Example #1.

I want you to love your jewelry item. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase you may return the item within 14 days of receiving it for exchange or credit ONLY (excludes custom orders). Item must be in its original packaging and in perfect, unused condition. Sorry, shipping costs will not be refunded.

Example #2.

We want you to love the jewelry. You must email us within 5 days of receipt for return/exchange instructions. Sorry, we cannot refund shipping. Jewelry must be in original condition.

Example #3.

Merchandise must be returned within 7 days for a full refund. Please include your receipt. Insure work for the full value with "tracking". Returns lost in return shipping will not be refunded.

Example #4.


Special orders are final sales and cannot be returned or exchanged.
Purchases from our inventory may be exchanged within two (2) weeks of the date of purchase either for another piece of jewelry or for store credit. We do not give refunds.

Example #5

Special orders are non-returnable.
Regular orders can be returned within 7 days of receipt in their original packaging and in the case of jewelry, in unworn condition. Please notify the gallery by phone or email before the return.The client is responsible for returning the item(s) pre-paid and insured to the Gallery. Credit issued will not include original shipping and insurance charges. We reserve the right to not accept a return and may require a re-stocking or repair fee if the item has been at all damaged or worn. While our policies are firm for obvious reasons, we will do everything we can to work with you and make sure your experience with is positive.

Do you have a RETURN POLICY that you would like to share with other artists? That would be great to see and share. Please send your  Return Policy to Ask Harriete either using the CONTACT PAGE for my blog or include your Return Policy in a COMMENT. Thanks a lot for helping other artists.


This post was updated on December 15, 2021

Return Policies at Open Studio Events.

Return-Policy-Sign_harriete-estel-berman900 copy
If you are hosting an Open Studio event is it likely that you anticipate retail purchases.
With this in mind, it is essential that you prepare a Return Policy BEFORE the Open Studio.

Read the previous blog titled: Deciding your Return Policies for Retail Purchase to find a list of possible issues that you may want to consider when writing your Return Policy.

Post your Return Policy in a visible location in the Studio. (If you do not post your  Return Policy it will be assumed that you have no restrictions on returns which is probably not the case.) I made the "sign" shown above for my studio. It is attractive and eye-catching.  I will post this right above my Return Policy print out (which I can change anytime.)

Your Return Policy sign should be at the location where you are most likely to make a transaction such as your sales counter, cash register, or packing area. It would be a good idea to post an additional sign in another visible location.

Posting your Return Policy sign prevents returns not consistent with the established return policy. In addition, informing the customers in advance might make them more comfortable knowing your Return Policy before they decide to purchase an item.

Take a photo of your Return Policy signs. Save the photos of your Return Policy in case you need to prove your Return Policy was posted.   You can also use these photos for handy reference next time you host an Open Studio. It will help you remember all the things you need to get ready.

Prepare your invoices in advance with your Return Policy on the invoice. This can either be on the invoice saved on your computer, (ready to fill out with the customer's name and the items purchased) or have a pre-printed invoice book ready. Print, stamp or use a sticker label of your Return Policy on the pre-printed Invoice book or sales receipt.

Do you have a way that you handle your Return Policy at Open Studio events that you would like to share with other artists and craftspeople? Please feel welcome to share your ideas in the comments.


This post was updated on January 9, 2022


Deciding your Return Policies for Retail Purchase

Dilbert bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman from post consumer recycled tin cans

As mentioned in the previous blog titled, "What is your Return Policy?' it is very important to establish your Return Policy and post this policy in a location where the sign is visible in advance of a purchase. If you are participating in online retail, then your Return Policy is often included in your "profile" information and/or on the shopping cart page.

If the purchase is made at your studio or store, post the information in a visible location where the item is purchased.

The following are some criteria that you may decide to include in your Return Policy.

  • Under what circumstances will you accept a return?
  • How many days does the customer have to return the items purchased?
  • Does the item need to be returned unworn, unused, or in salable condition?
  • What if the item is damaged? Will you accept a return?
  • Does the customer need to include their receipt or  Proof of Purchase?
  • Is the item returned for a credit with the artist to purchase other merchandise?
  • Is the item returned for full credit to their credit card or PayPal?
  • Is the item returned for a cash refund?
  • Is the client given a full refund? Is there a restocking charge?
  • If the client is given a refund, is it immediate; or within 2 weeks; 20 days; or a month?
  • Do you refund the client's shipping expenses?

Dilbert bracelet by Harriete Estel BermanThis is not a comprehensive list of possible Return Policies, but it gives you a good idea about what to consider and there are variables under each question. Goodwill is very important to keep with your customer, so flexibility may be essential regardless of your Return Policy.

If the item is returned because it is described as defective, seriously flawed, or poorly crafted then more than likely you are both legally and ethically required to accept a return no matter what your Return Policy may state.

Look for future blog entries for example Return Policies AND:



Return-Policy-Sign_harriete-estel-berman900 copy
This post was updated on January 9, 2022

What is a "Return Policy"?

Return-Policy-Sign_harriete-estel-berman900 copyDear ASK Harriete,
What is your return policy and how did you come to it?
Concerned about Returns. 

Dear Concerned about Returns,

The subject of Return Policies is a great question and a huge topic. To break this down into manageable portions, I am going to make several entries in this blog on the topic over the next few days. There are many situations in which an artist may need a Return Policy including retail purchase, online retail selling,  open studio situations, craft shows, and wholesale accounts. Flexible Return Policies by large stores have led the consumers to assume that all retailers are equally flexible but for the small retailer, such as an artist, offering complete credit for Returns can be problematic.Lifesavers72_2

Personally, I never even thought about the concept of Return Policies until relatively recently since I only sold work through galleries.  In those situations, the Return Policy is determined by the gallery and represents the relationship the gallery has with the client.  It is rarely an issue discussed between the artist and the gallery.

With my recent adventures into retail selling on a number of online sites I started thinking about Return Policies, too. Almondkisses72_3

Your first consideration should be to look at your state law about Return Policies. Thank goodness for the internet. Tonight I just typed in  - Return Policy in California -  and the results for this search were easily found. Here is the link in case you live in California.

Return-Policy-Sign_harriete-estel-berman900 copyI have included some of this information on Return Policies below. Look online for the law on Return Policies in whatever state or country you live in. The most important premise of a Return Policy is that it is clear and available to the consumer at (or before) the point of purchase.  You can have ANY Return Policy you want as long as the customer knows what your Return Policy is before they buy.

The most challenging issue about developing your own Return Policy is developing a policy that is considered reasonable by the client, encourages purchases, and is relatively easy for the artist to implement.

In future blogs, I am going to cover additional information about Return Policies including:



Most retail sellers allow a customer to return purchased merchandise within a reasonable time for a full refund or credit, or for an equal exchange. In fact, these refund policies are so common that customers have come to expect them when retail sellers do not post a notice to the contrary.

However, some retail sellers impose conditions on accepting returned merchandise or do not accept returns at all. The California law requires retail sellers to post their refund policy if the policy does not meet certain common expectations. These common expectations are:

  • The retail seller gives a full cash or credit refund, and equal exchange, or some combination of these, and
  • The customer may return the merchandise for at least seven days following purchase if it is returned with proof of purchase.

When Return Policy Must Be Displayed

If a retail seller has a return policy that does not meet these common expectations, the seller must conspicuously display its refund policy as described in the next section. This conspicuous display requirement applies to any retail seller which sells goods to the public in this state whose return policy as to any of those goods does not meet these common expectations.


This post was updated on Janurary 9, 2022