Is it illegal to refund or exchange tobacco and alcohol products after it has left the store?!

Question: Is it illegal to refund or exchange tobacco and alcohol products after it has left the store?
I work at a convenience store, worked here for a year now. I worked at another one for a year. I live in Tucson, AZ, if this helps.

At my old job we were never to refund or exchange tobacco or alcohol products once someone leaves the store (goes outside the doors). It was against the law. At my current job, I always refused a customer who wanted a refund or exchange of tobacco or alcohol. But now, they want me to start allowing those types of transactions!

What happened was last week, a woman came in and purchased a 12 pack of beer. A few minutes later a man came in holding a 12 pack of beer and said his wife just bought it and wanted to refund it so he could by an 18 pack instead. I explained to him the law and that I couldn't refund it. He asked to see the manager so I went to get her. While he was waiting for my manager, he asked my coworker the same question. My coworker also told him it was against the law and that a refund was not allowed. My manager spoke to him and he asked her the same question. My manager also told him it was against the law and that a refund was not allowed. The man got angry, threatened us and left. I had to report the threat to the police and to our security office.

The next day we received a memo saying that it wasn't illegal to refund or exchange tobacco or alcohol and that "if Jessica had known that, the customer would not have gotten irate. We lost business because Jessica refused him." Excuse me, but my coworker AND my manager did the same thing. Why am I the only one getting called out? The rest of the memo makes it seem like it's okay to do whatever the customer wants if they threaten us, even if it's illegal.

So is it illegal? Should I be worried that I could get arrested?


Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

Where I live there is no problem returning alcohol as long as you have your receipt and it is unopened, (and within a reasonable amount of time I suppose too.)

It is unfortunate the way your situation worked out. Don't you just wish you had a rewind button for the whole thing? You can't get arrested for making a mistake about this, especially since your manager said the same thing. The worst that could happen to you is he would sue you, but that is unlikely. Even if he did, he couldn't sue you personally, but the store where you work.

That is hogwash about you getting singled out in this situation, especially since your manager said the same thing! I am sorry for that. If I were you, if you ever see the customer again and if it isn't too awkward after the scene he created, I'd just offer him an apology and that you now know that he was right about being able to return it.

I don't know how it works with tobacco, sorry. Another thing to keep in mind too, with things as small as this, even if it were illegal, if you were able to let him exchange it without it being an issue for your store and management, the authorities have far far bigger issues to deal with than some guy trading beer in for another brand.


Even though I doubt Arizona's laws would forbid people from returning liquor, I don't know what the laws are for sure. Try contacting these guys. They should know for sure as they hand out (and revoke) licences.

alcohol laws vary greatly around the world, and by state in the US

in my state, as long as it unopened, its completely legal to return/exchange alcoholic products
in fact, if you used a credit card, its against the credit card company and the business's agreement to NOT allow a full refund as long as its unopened.

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