Do Liquor Stores Give Refunds

Most people know what they want when they walk into a liquor store. Still, there might be times when you find the wine you bought doesn’t taste just right, or you bought too much alcohol for an event. It happens. But when it does, what are your options? Can you get a refund from a liquor store?

Liquor stores can give refunds so long as it’s not illegal in that state. That said, even if the store cannot refund your money, they may be able to provide an exchange or store credit.

Continue reading to find out if your state allows refunds on alcohol and the best way to ask a store for a refund.

Where Can You Get a Refund for Alcohol?

You can return alcoholic items in states where it’s legal to offer refunds on alcoholic products as long as the store’s return policy allows it.

Laws governing returns and refunds can be confusing because they are different in each state. You might be able to return alcohol in one area, but twenty minutes south, it’s another story.

In addition to refund laws, some laws govern the sale and return of alcohol and tobacco, which also differ from state to state. 

Then you have to account for each store’s return policy, which might refuse to refund alcoholic products even if the state laws allow it.

The only way to know if you can get a refund is to ask the store. It never hurts to ask a shop about their return policy, especially if you think there’s a good chance you’ll need to return the item in the future.

Why Is It Illegal to Return Alcohol in Some States?

While rules are different in each state, one law remains the same no matter where you live—if you want to sell alcoholic products, you must have a liquor license.

Once you buy a product and money exchanges hands, you own the item. So when you return it for a refund, you’re essentially selling it back to the store. Most of the time, that’s fine, but things become more complicated when alcohol is involved.

Though some states have found ways around this, most states don’t allow liquor stores to offer refunds because their customers aren’t licensed to sell alcohol. The store could be fined or even lose its liquor license if it doesn’t follow this law.

Can I Return Unopened Alcohol?

Have you ever been in a hurry and accidentally grabbed the wrong thing at the store? I know I’ve done this before. Usually, you would return the product and get what you wanted, but what if the thing you accidentally grabbed was alcohol? Could you return the unopened bottle?

Most stores will only refund an alcoholic product if the item is unopened. Once you’ve opened it, you’re more likely to get an exchange or store credit. Some stores may refuse to take an open product back at all.

If you open a bottle of wine before noticing it’s gone off, make sure you put any alcohol you poured into a glass back into the bottle. You might be able to exchange the wine for a new one, but if half of the contents are gone, it’s much less likely the store will honor an exchange.

Do Liquor Stores Allow Exchanges?

Now you know you might not be able to return a bottle of alcohol for a full refund. But can you exchange it for something else?

Most states do allow stores to exchange alcoholic products. However, each state has different rules regarding how an exchange is processed. 

For example, in Maine, stores are allowed to exchange an item as long as the alcoholic product is unopened and the customer provides a receipt that shows the product was bought within a certain timeframe.

Meanwhile, in California, stores can only exchange faulty or unfit products for human consumption. And in Michigan, stores cannot exchange alcoholic products at all.

How to Ask for a Refund?

Whether or not you’ll get a refund at a liquor store depends largely on local laws and the store’s policy. Some stores can issue alternatives to money-back refunds without breaking local laws. Knowing how to ask for a refund can make a huge difference.

Know Your Local Laws

You’re not going to get far if you walk into a store demanding a full refund in a state where it’s illegal for liquor stores to issue money-back returns. But, if you understand the laws in your state, you might be able to ask for a more reasonable (legal) solution.

Understand the Stores Return Policy

In addition to state laws, you should understand the store’s return policy. Even if you live in a state where it’s allowed, stores are not mandated to provide returns. 

You can usually find a store’s return policy online. For smaller liquor stores, you might see their policy posted in the store. If it’s not posted, ask a manager if they can provide you with a copy of their return policy.

Be Polite

The people you’re most likely to encounter when asking for a refund are not store owners. They work there. It’s not their job to worry about whether you grabbed a clear rum instead of a spiced rum. 

That said, people respond to positivity. If you’re courteous, it’s more likely the clerk will reach into their bag of tricks to help you out and find a solution that works for everyone.

Offer an Appropriate Solution

There’s a difference between returning a product because it was fermented and returning it because you accidentally bought the wrong thing. One is the store’s fault, and the other is not the store’s fault.

If something was wrong with the product, asking for a full refund is acceptable. If you’re returning it because of an oversight, asking for an exchange or store credit might be more appropriate. 

Express Gratitude

Even if you’re not satisfied with the outcome, express gratitude for their willingness to work with you; if you do that, you’ll be much more likely to get a positive response if you ever need to exchange something again.


Some liquor stores will give refunds; some won’t. It depends on state laws and the return policy of the store. The only way to know for sure is to ask the shop about their return policy.

If you’re buying significant alcohol for an event, it might be worth looking into a temporary liquor license. Not only is it required in most cases, but it could help you return any unused alcohol.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply