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Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler often gets emails from people upset because retailers refused to refund them to their debit cards (they’ll happily refund to a credit card).

Some retailers, warns Knowler, ignorant of the prohibition against debit card refunds, may try to refund you – it’ll take ages and all sorts of drama for your money to reach your account.

Below is an actual email Knowler got on Wednesday.

Arabile Gumede (in for The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield) spoke to Knowler, who answered questions posed in the email.

Scroll down to listen to Knowler’s answer (and read quotes from it).


Dear Wendy,

My wife and I were in Canal Walk on Sunday returning a few items at one of the major clothing retailers.

The store was happy to give the refund as the goods were in the condition they were bought, we had the original receipt, and we were returning within 30 days of purchase.

The retailer would not, however, refund on my wife's debit card and so they ended up giving us cash (though they did say they could have refunded if the purchase was made on her credit card).

Thinking it unusual, we thereafter inquired at another retailer and were told that they too would have refunded in cash in the same scenario.

Please note that we are grateful that we got our money back! Our reluctance to accept the cash refund related to the amount - it was just under R2500 when we rarely carry more than R200 in cash at any time.

Is there any provision in the Consumer Protection Act that stipulates how a refund is executed?


The merchant… is not allowed to process refunds on debit cards...

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Tell companies how you want them to treat you… Be very clear with the company about what you want and when you want it by. The more specific your request… the more likely you’ll be successful… Be very, very specific…

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

You only have a legal right to a refund if it’s defective in terms of the CPA… if it’s something that’s the wrong size… or buyer’s remorse… you have no legal right to a refund…

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

This article first appeared on 702 : Paying with a debit card? Don’t expect a refund on it when returning items

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