Massachusetts law about shopping and returns

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on the law of shopping and returns by the Trial Court Law Libraries.

Table of Contents

Best bet

A Massachusetts consumer guide to shopping rights, Office of Consumer Affairs. 
Explains laws that protect consumers so you can make informed decisions about your purchases. 

Laws and regulations


Bottle redemption

Cash purchases

Cooling off periods / Cancellation rights


7 years Gift cards are valid

Gift certificates and gift cards

  • MGL c.255D, § 1 Gift certificate defined
  • MGL c.93, § 14S Store credits must be valid for at least 7 years
  • MGL c.200A, § 5D Gift certificates and cards must be valid for at least 7 years; issuance and expiration dates must be clearly indicated
  • 12 CFR 205.20 Restricts dormancy, inactivity, or service fees for certain prepaid products, including gift cards, and prohibits the sale or issuance of such products if they have an expiration date of less than 5 years.


Item pricing

  • MGL c.94, §§ 184B-184E Grocery items:
    • § 184B Definitions
    • § 184C Price disclosure and display on items offered for sale by food store or food department
    • § 184D Inspection of food stores and food departments for compliance with Secs. 184B to 184E; violations and fines; consumer complaint of noncompliance
    • § 184E Conversion from individual item pricing system to consumer price scanner system; operation and inspection of consumer price scanner system
  • 940 CMR 3.13  Non-grocery items

Lay away plans

Mail, internet or telephone orders (shipping date and refunds)

  • 16 CFR 435 Mail, internet, or telephone order merchandise

Rain checks



Sales tax

Unsolicited merchandise

  • MGL c.93, § 43 Unsolicited merchandise may be considered an unconditional gift


Web sources

Consumer rights and resources, Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs
Links to consumer guide to shopping rights and scams, consumer protection law, and options for resolving a consumer complaint.

Massachusetts blue laws, Dept. of Labor Standards
Includes links to the laws themselves, as well as an overview, which explains the rules for opening on Sundays and holidays. 

Online shopping, Federal Trade Commission
Tips for consumers when making purchases online.

Shopping blog posts, Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs
Link to a list of blog posts by the Office of Consumer Affairs on topics related to shopping and returns.

Print sources

Consumer law, 4th ed. (Mass. Practice v. 35 - 36A), Thomson Reuters, 2021. 

  • Advertising – chapter 2
  • Miscellaneous products or services (clothing, health club contracts, travel service, etc.) – chapter 30
  • Retail Practices – Chapter 3
  • Warranties – Chapter 6



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Last updated: August 1, 2022