Am I legally entitled to a refund on a custom made item that was received late and defective?

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Am I legally entitled to a refund on a custom made item that was received late and defective?

Last month I ordered a custom made wedding cake topper from an on-line retailer. The item’s description stated it would take “up to 4 weeks” to be made and shipped. Today, I finally received the item (2 1/2 weeks late), but it arrived in pieces, severely damaged in shipment. The wedding that the topper was ordered for is in 3 days, making it impossible for a replacement to arrive in time, as the retailer requires the original item to be returned first. The retailer has also refused to issue a refund, suggesting I instead glue the broken pieces back onto the topper.

Asked on October 5, 2011 under General Practice, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The agreement (whether oral or written) between you and the retailer was that in exchange for paying them a certain amount of money, you would receive the item, in good shape and repair. When you did not get that--and they also breached the obligation about the delivery time--the retailer breached the agreement and entitled you to damages. They cannot require you to take the broken piece and use. You have the right to either sue for the cost of the item (including shipping), or to sue for the cost of a replacement (e.g. if you had to pay a premium to get an alternative made within time). Depending on the amount at stake, however, it may or may not be worth the trouble and expense of a lawsuit.


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