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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 9, 2007 / 9 Tamuz, 5767

Happy Returns

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Can I buy a product with the intention of returning it?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: If a store has a two-week return policy, is it ethical to buy something from the store with the intention of using it and then returning it for money back?


A: As we explained in a previous column, in Jewish law every object has an unlimited money-back guarantee. The reason is that if there is a fundamental defect in a product, the sale is considered void. Maimonides writes:


"One who sells to his fellow land, or a slave, or an animal or other chattels and a defect is found which the customer did not know about, it can be returned even after a period of years, since it was a mistaken purchase."


However, this is conditioned on the fact that the purchaser did indeed intend to acquire the object; the problem is that it is defective. Even if the object is defective but the purchaser finds it satisfactory, he waives his right to return it.


Maimonides continues:


"But this is on the condition that he doesn't use the purchase after he discovers the defect, but if he uses it after he sees the defect he has waived [his right to void the sale] and he cannot return it." (1)


Every sale is conditioned on a "meeting of the minds," informed consent of buyer and seller regarding the terms of the sale. A seller may go beyond the letter of the law and allow the buyer to void the sale not only for an actual defect, but also for any characteristic the customer finds unsatisfactory. But the underlying principle is the same: the customer has reached the conclusion that his purchase was a mistake and he wants to nullify it. This is the exact opposite of someone who is making no mistake but on the contrary knows exactly what the item is, finds it satisfactory, and plans to enjoy and then return it.


It is worth noting that a "no questions asked" return policy is different from a "free trial". A free trial is exactly what the name suggests: an offer to try out a product and see if you like it. In this case the seller wants to convince you that the product (usually an unfamiliar one) is worth buying; the only way to do this is by giving you an opportunity to try it out. There's nothing wrong with taking something for a free trial without any firm intention to buy it even if you find it of value; the seller is betting that you will like it enough to buy it and agrees to adopt the risk that you might not.


The difference is that a return policy is generally for goods that the buyer is familiar with and knows that he wants; the seller is able to guarantee that the merchandise is satisfactory. A free trial is usually for a good that is unfamiliar; in order to convince the buyer that the object is worthwhile, he is willing to offer a free trial. It's not a problem that you doubt you will want to purchase the object; that's exactly why the seller is offering you the free trial!


However, even in this case it would be improper to use the free trial if you are totally familiar with the object and learn nothing from the trial. If a number of stores are offering free trials of a certain product and you go from one to the other asking to try it out, it's not a "trial" at all since you know very well what the product is.


Free trials were common already in the time of the Talmud. Wine sellers would allow potential customers to taste a bit of wine before deciding if they wanted to buy. Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak told his students that tasting wine in this way is a forbidden subterfuge when they had no possibility of buying the wine (due to lack of means). This is a bad faith trial. But if the seller could convince you to buy if you really liked the product then you don't need any kind of prior intention or commitment.

SOURCES: (1) Maimonides Code, laws of sale 15:3 (2) Babylonian Talmud, Shabbos 129a

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

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