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Stores adjust refund, return policies during coronavirus pandemic

Some stores have changed their policies to prevent hoarding and contamination. Places you could usually return any item and get a refund are temporarily saying no.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You buy a product at a store you frequently shop at, it isn't what you expected it to be, so you go to return that item and you can't. 

This scenario has happened to many during the pandemic. Major retailers and locally owned stores have changed their return and refund policies. 

“We’ve been reading and communicating with other business owners across the country to find out what to do," says Aaron Gottlieb, owner of Native Sun Natural Foods Market in Jacksonville Beach. 

He says they put their new policy in place in mid-March to prevent over-purchasing products as well as prevent contamination from returned items. At Native Sun, everything is final sale right now. 

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"In the case of a retail store, the reason you could return things in the past was because you can resell them, if they were unopened," Gottlieb says. 

Publix is not allowing refunds during the pandemic, but their sign at the cash register says if the product doesn't meet their standards then they'll honor their Publix Guarantee. Gottlieb says they do the same - if the product happens to be bad, they'll replace it. 

“All of our customers have been extremely understanding," Gottlieb says. 

Target's website says they are allowing returns past the return by date. "Guests who have items with a “return by date” from March 26-April 26, during which we suspended returns, will have until June 15 to return them." Items bought online at Target.com can be returned by mail. 

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Online shopping may be the solution for some retailers. Walmart is allowing online returns and Amazon has continued with returns during the pandemic. 

Gyms reopened on May 18, but that means they were closed for two months in Florida. Have you received a refund?

Orange Theory Fitness has more than 1,000 studios around the country. The company posted on their website that membership dues were immediately and automatically suspended during closures. 

Planet Fitness' website says the company has taken action already. "We have proactively frozen all memberships on your behalf, and you will not be charged any fees while your club is closed."

Local gym, Bailey's Health and Fitness, posted an update on their website explaining how they are adjusting bills. Their Marketing Director Elizabeth Aguilera said in an email "no payments were taken out for April or for May and we opened today, May 18th, providing our members with a few extra days free of charge since we did not resume billing this month."

You should check to see if you were billed during the statewide gym closures. Call and ask for a refund or for free months on your contract. If that doesn’t work, call your credit card company or file a complaint with the state's Attorney General.

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