Merchandise return fees targeted by House

The House passed a bill today that forbids businesses from charging customers when they return defective merchandise.

Proponents say the law is needed because businesses are allowed to charge an unlimited amount when customers return a product.

Several House members shared their personal stories of returning a product and being charged the fee before the 121-16 vote.

“I was left with a hefty restocking fee and left with nothing,” said Rep. Patricia M. Widlitz, D-Guilford, frustrated the fee was never mentioned before she recently purchased dinning room chairs.

Cell phone companies are against the bill, calling their restocking fees “reasonable” to cover the costs to make the products suitable to resell.

“The bill would encourage sellers to greatly restrict equipment returns, as they would be required to fully absorb any resulting costs,” said AT&T Connecticut, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile in joint testimony.

“A little tweak here and another tweak there, at the end of the day we are hurting our businesses,” said Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers. “You can’t love jobs and hate business.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for final action.