I need a product from a shop in the US and the unit price is about $100. But the shop has an offer saying if I buy three or more units, the unit price is only about $80.00. The shop also has very good return and refund policies. I only need one such product.

My question is, what happens if I buy three at $80 each, and later return two? Will I get $160 back? In other words, can I essentially only buy one unit at the lower unit price (which supposedly are only available when I buy at least three units) this way? Or will the shop only give me $140 back (in this case, I spent $100 for one unit)?

Update: I have returned the other two and get a refund for $80 each. So essentially only bought one at $80.

  • 6
    Have you asked the shop? Or looked at their return policy? I don't think any of us can predict what they will do, and it's not clear (to me at least) that there is a standard, or any regulation or other requirement.
    – dwizum
    Aug 22, 2019 at 17:42
  • Have any friends that might want a deal on the other 2?
    – topshot
    Aug 23, 2019 at 12:02
  • @dwizum, I did not ask them about the policy; I simply returned the two and get $80 back for each.
    – Zuriel
    Aug 23, 2019 at 18:16
  • @topshot, thanks for the comment! I returned the other two; it is not easy to find friends who might need them.
    – Zuriel
    Aug 23, 2019 at 18:16

4 Answers 4


There is no universal answer. Every company is free to set their own terms. Check the fine print or contact the company.

Usually, companies are smart enough to avoid those situations. For example, if you sign up for a "Buy One Get One Free" deal, you can't return the paid one and keep the free one.

You should also consider whether or not return shipping is free. Some companies offer free labels while others charge. Either way, you have to go through the hassle of shipping your returns so you have to decide if it's worth the $20 savings.


Depends on the store and conditions for the discount. As an example the grocery store occasionally has sales like this and require return of all products for a refund. For example, if 12 packs of Coke are on sale for "4 for $10 - must buy 4", the receipt will say "all items required for return". Sometimes the sale doesn't have the "must buy 4" requirement and you can just buy 1 for $2.50 (or buy 4 and return 3 for $7.50 back). So the best thing to do is contact the store and ask about their refund policy on this item.


A shop/business that hasn't figured out how to address this issue, will soon run into a cash flow problem.

In the past in the days of non-computerized sales receipts it would be possible to convince a young store employee to refund the higher priced one. But with the modern POS systems, the computer should quickly grasp the correct amount to refund.

You can frequently see the approach they will take when reviewing the receipt. If the price is $100 for each, but 3 for $240; the receipt will show the first one for $100, the second one for $100, and the third one for $40. The computer will only let your return the one for $40 if you only bring one back.

There is a department store near us that has many coupons and discounts, which if you buy an item can sometimes trigger more coupons and discounts. If you return an item it correctly un-applies all the coupons and discounts so as to not create an opportunity to game the system.

You can even see this happen during the transaction. At my grocery store they sometimes have an electronic coupon that get your a $10 discount if your purchases in a single transaction is over a certain amount. The amount varies, it sometimes is very easy to meet at $50, other times it is $100 or $150. when the cashier scans the last item and hits a key, the first discount applied is the $10 discount if you are over the threshold. But then the other discounts and coupons are applied, if you fall below the threshold the $10 is then added back into transaction, and is displayed in a red font.

  • 1
    I once had a $20 credit at Staples. It was "good as cash". When I purchased $100 worth of stuff, I saw the coupon was applied piecemeal to each item. So the $30 calculator I returned, got me back just $24. Lesson learned. I should have spent the $20 on only the pencils/ink/paper, and charged the calculator stand-alone. There was no explaining the math or what happened to a manager. $6. Cheap lesson. Aug 23, 2019 at 14:10
  • 1
    @JoeTaxpayer, so if you return all your purchases, you only get $80 back and your $20 is gone nowhere?
    – Zuriel
    Aug 23, 2019 at 18:25
  • 1
    Yes, it was a “reward”, not credit for prior return or anything like that. A bonus for past spending. Like many places (CVS for another example) you need to know exact policy and use strategic thinking. Aug 23, 2019 at 18:58
  • I assume you meant $10 discount in the last paragraph. Revert my edit if I am incorrect.
    – stannius
    Aug 28, 2019 at 20:05
  • Other stores will pro-rate the discount, for instance Home Depot's receipts when there's something free will pro-rate the discount of the free item across all the items that are part of the deal. E.g. buy tool kit A for $149 and get additional tool B free worth $89, will show something like "max refund value: $93.28" and $55.72, respectively, on the receipt.
    – stannius
    Aug 28, 2019 at 20:09

They will ask for you receipt to process the return, and then refund whatever is on the receipt. So you will be refunded $80, not $100.

As you have seen, this allows you to circumvent the minimum purchase size. On higher value items, or if this sort of behavior occurs often, the store may have a policy of refunding only the entire lot.

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