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Returns And Refunds

Question

I have heard that if a customer is not happy, then I should give a full refund. I advertise products, many of which I haven’t seen before. Customers order the goods and then I place an order with my suppliers. My suppliers do not accept returns unless the goods are damaged.

Am I obliged to give a refund? I may not be able to sell the product and do not have extra have cash to afford this. Will it be correct for me not to refund the money , stating that my supplier does not take back the goods.

Answer

In Shariah the buyer has the right to return the product if he buys it without seeing it and is not happy with it. What is meant by “seeing it”, is viewing, tasting, smelling, hearing or feeling (depending on the purpose of the product) the tangible item itself or a copy of it (a copy will be considered in those things that are sold by measure or by weight or those things that have similar units and is sold as a unit) in such a way that the buyer becomes aware of what was wanted from the item.

However, if the buyer uses the item in a way an owner would use it (which indicates that he was satisfied with the product), then he will no longer have the option of returning it.

Seeing a digital picture of a product on a website or a poster would not be classified in Shariah as viewing a product in such a manner that the buyer no longer has the option to reverse the sale due to it not being the actual item and it is common that that what is seen online or as a picture does not look the same in reality.

Since you are the seller, you would be obliged to take back the item and give a refund to the customer if the customer had not “seen” the physical item or a copy of it (as long as they didn’t use it in the manner of an owner as mentioned above).

Regarding your business methods we can garner from your query that maybe your transaction process is not in line with Shariah. We assume that the transaction involves the concept of Bay’ qabla al-qabdh (selling something that is not in one’s possession). If this is indeed the case, then such a transaction is impermissible. There is however, a Shariah compliant way of performing these types of transactions. If this is the way that you are transacting, you can submit your transaction process (giving full details) to the Darul Ifta to be reviewed.

References

وقالوا في المشتري إذا رأى المبيع في المرآة: إن له الخيار، وكذا في الماء. وقالوا: لأنه لم ير عينه، وإنما رأى مثاله، والصحيح أنه رأى عين المبيع لا إن غير المبيع في المرآة والماء بل يراه حيث هو لكن لا على الوجه المعتاد بخلق الله – تعالى – فيه الرؤية، وهذا ليس ببعيد؛ لأن المقابلة ليست من شرط الرؤية فإنا نرى الله – تعالى عز شأنه – بلا مقابلة، ولكن قد لا يحصل له العلم بهيئته لتفاوت المرآة فيعلم بأصله لا بهيئته فلذلك يثبت له الخيار لا لما قالوا، والله – عز وجل – أعلم على أن في العرف لا يشتري الإنسان شيئا لم يره ليراه في المرآة أو في الماء ليحصل له العلم بهذا الطريق، فلا تكون رؤيته في المرآة، وإن رأى عينه مسقطة للخيار، وعلى هذا قالوا فيمن رأى فرج أم امرأته في الماء، أو في المرآة فنظر إليه بشهوة لا تثبت له حرمة المصاهرة، وكذا لا يصير مراجعا للمرأة المطلقة طلاقا رجعيا لما قلنا.
(درر الحكام شرح مجلة الاحكام ج١ ص٣٢٣-٣٣١)

ولو اشترى سمكا في دائرة يمكن أخذه من غير اصطياد وحيلة حتى جاز البيع فرآه في الماء ثم أخذه قال بعضهم: لا خيار له؛ لأنه رأى عين السمك في الماء، وقال بعضهم: له الخيار؛ لأن ما رآه كما هو؛ لأن الشيء لا يرى في الماء كما هو بل يرى أكثر مما هو، فلم يحصل المقصود بهذه الرؤية، وهو معرفته كما هو فله الخيار.
(بدائع الصنائع ج٧ ص٣١٦)

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