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Schumer Seeks Disclosure For Online Return Fees

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(Photos/Getty Images)

(Photos/Getty Images)

xir_feature Mike Xirinachs
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/WCBS 880/CBS 2) — Plan on returning some gifts this holiday? It may cost you up to 25 percent of the price of the item and, if it was purchased online, you may not have a clue about that “restocking fee.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants the Federal Trade Commission to end that. He wants the FTC to determine if failing to disclose the restocking fee is a deceptive practice and to require retailers to prominently display that the fee will be charged.

“While an ever increasing number of retailers are starting to charge restocking fees, the disclosure of these fees has hardly kept pace,” said Schumer, D-New York. “Customers have a right to know that when they make a purchase they could be held responsible for up to 25 percent of the original cost of the product if they choose to return it.

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports.

“I think it’s unscrupulous to a certain degree,” Rockville Center resident Art Calvo told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

“They should have full disclosure,” one woman said.

Schumer said a restocking fee is an important element for consumers to consider when choosing where to buy.

The FTC says it currently has no position on the issue, said spokeswoman Claudia Bourne Farrell.

New York state law requires stores to disclose fees for in-store purchases, but there aren’t rules for online purchases, Sanchez reported. Fees can be as high as 25% of the original purchase price.

“It’s silly. They shouldn’t charge it. It’s outlandish,” Alison Garrity said.

Notices of the fees from stores can be on the item, at checkout, or near the store’s entrance.

New York’s 2009 require requires stores to refund the restocking fee if the notice isn’t well posted.

In his letter to the FTC, Schumer said he would help the agency gain the authority to regulate the practice, if legislation is needed.

“When you click that mouse to finalize your purchase, there should be no surprise that you might have to pay more to return the product than you did to buy it in the first place,” Schumer said.

“Dealing with the recession, everybody’s really watching what they spend. They shouldn’t have to incur these extra expenses,” retail expert Dara Fleisher said.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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