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Don't be afraid to return an item to a vendor or manufacturer if you have good reason to do so. If the item is defective, or the wrong item was sent to you, or the vendor said it would be compatible with your system and it is not, then you should send it back for refund or exchange. Don't allow yourself to be stuck forever with something that doesn't work, or doesn't work the way it is supposed to. A lot of people are shy about returning product, but this can be very expensive in the long run.
The short explanation of how to return an item is as follows: contact the company, as for a return of material authorization (RMA) number, and follow their instructions. There are some subtleties in doing a return well though, so for specific, detailed instructions on how to perform a return, see this section of the site.
Note: If you do nothing else,
be sure not to send back anything to a company without an RMA number; the item will either
be returned back to you, or worse, may end up "lost" in their system due to
having no tracking number.
An important issue when returning items is the matter of who pays for the cost of sending them back. Standard protocol with most companies seems to be that they require you to pay the shipping to send the item back to you, and they pay the shipping costs on the replacement item, if any. However, if the return is due to something that is the fault of the vendor or manufacturer, they should pay all the costs of correcting it. I would include in this category sending the wrong item (see here) or sending product that is used when it was sold as new, or product that a reasonable person should have expected would be defective (such as a hard disk with a big dent in it--you'd be surprised!) Don't let yourself pay for others' obvious errors.
Next: Using Your Warranty