Complaints pour into BBB after residents can't return hurricane supplies

The Better Business Bureau has been getting complaints from consumers throughout Central Florida who have been trying to return hurricane supplies.

The agency said some people bought supplies for Hurricane Matthew, never used them and now can’t get their money back.

The BBB said it is mainly hearing complaints from people who bought larger and more expensive items.

A BBB worker said it all comes down to whether the store’s refund policy was clear when the items were sold.

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It comes a week after the storm, as people cleaned off store shelves to prepare for the worst.

“It was pretty much chaos. I mean, everything was gone. There was no bread. There was no water,” said Orlando resident Diane Martens.

The BBB said some people who bought more expensive supplies, like generators, and didn’t use them are finding out they can’t get refunds.

“Better Business Bureau has heard from consumers in enough volume for us to believe that certainly there’s a pattern developing,” said Holly Salmons.

The BBB said in one complaint, a woman said she bought a $400 cooler and was told she couldn’t return it.

>> Read the latest on Hurricane Matthew 

The owner of the hardware store where she purchased it said a no refund policy was clearly posted at the time of her purchase.

The BBB said it’s a requirement by state statute for stores to make their policy clear and to stick to those terms.

“Consumers have certain expectations. You can’t then, in the middle of the transaction or in the middle of the return allowance period, change the ruled on them,” Salmons said.

Martens said she understand the financial burden for the customers who bought more than they ended up needing, but also for the small business owners who might not be able to afford the financial hit of a refund.

Anyone who believes they have wrongfully been denied a refund for hurricane supplies can contact the BBB for help.

The statute typically applied to items that have not been used.

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