Refund vs. Settlement

What’s the difference between a refund and a settlement?  One listener wants to know.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

My mother always says when it comes to repairs, “you can never get anything done right the first time.”  It’s a little pessimistic for an otherwise optimistic lady, but if you ask listener Willa S, she might agree.  Willa purchased a door, but it arrived damaged, and while trying to install it, the store damaged her door frame.  Rather than giving her a refund, the store instead sent her a settlement letter with restrictions on with whom she could discuss it.  She wanted to know if that’s legal.

Willa, it’s legal but it is up to you whether to sign it. If the money they’re offering covers all of your damages, and you’re willing not to talk about it, well, you can sign it and cash the check, but once you do, you can’t sue for anything else related to the door or installation if that’s what the settlement says.  If you don’t settle it, you can file a small claims case to ask for all the money and to preserve your right to tell everyone that it didn’t get done right the first time.

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