Can I Return This?

Do you know the law when it comes to refunds and returning items when shopping in Dubai and the rest of the UAE? Have you found the experience different to other countries? Let’s look at how you can navigate through the returns policy position in the UAE.

by Irene Feeney-Steele

In the US, the general policy for returns or refunds is usually 30 days – where an item can be returned for a full refund or exchanged if the customer has proof of purchase (the receipt – physical or online) and the item has not been used, worn or tampered with. This applies to most goods – whether they are on sale or full prices. Customers have the right to return purchases for a full refund even when the item is not faulty. Similarly, there is a lot of flexibility around the refund and returns policy in the UK and Europe with traditional and online retailers. A refund must be issued if customers return goods within 14 days of receiving them and are rarely asked to give a reason for returning an item.

In the UAE, the refund and return policy is slightly different and can vary from store to store. You may have noticed for example when it comes to seeking a refund on a clothing item, it’s quite rare for stores to offer cash refunds here. Instead, most offer customers the option to exchange an item within a certain time frame (it can vary from anything between 7 days to 90 days) or opt for store credit and in many cases, this form of credit has an expiry date. It’s also worth mentioning, receipts are almost always needed along with original packaging, sealed, unopened and tags attached on purchases.

Consumers in the UAE are protected under the Federal Law No. 15 of 2020 commissioned by the Department of Consumer Protection. The law aims to protect all consumer rights, including the right to a standard quality of goods and services and the right to obtain them at the declared price. It further seeks to preserve the health and safety of the consumer when using the goods or receiving the service. In addition, the legislation applies to physical stores and companies, and also to online retailers and services in the UAE. However, the law does not apply to eCommerce activities that are carried out between customers in the UAE and eCommerce businesses registered outside the UAE.

When it comes to your refund rights as a consumer, the UAE Department of Economic Development (DED) has set out some basic rights and rules for shoppers here including:

  • The consumer has the right to return and get a refund for any defective product.

  • All sellers are bound to display their return and refund policy and

  • If the consumer chooses to repair the product, the seller must inform him or her of the type of defects and the cost.

Exploring the topic further, it seems there is nothing in the law that gives the consumer the right to a monetary refund if they change their mind on their purchase. This is at the discretion of the store itself but not mandated under UAE law. In most cases here, retailers do give the option of a credit note or an exchange on the item. There can be slight differences in how retailers manage refunds and returns in the UAE but knowing your basic shopping rights can certainly increase your leverage and consumer power.