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Business Weekly Hotline: The Case of the Camera


A Project of the Business Halacha Institute
Under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn

I bought a camera recently and I was having difficulty charging the battery.  I called the manufacturer to complain. They informed me that their policy is that I can return it to the store where I purchased it within thirty days of the purchase, and they will swap the defective camera for a new one.  The store is far from my home. I won’t be able to get there for a couple of weeks.

Q: Am I permitted to use the camera for the next couple of weeks even though I intend to exchange it for another one?

A: Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 232:3) rules that whenever one discovers a defect in merchandise that he purchased, he can demand a refund – even if the defect is not discovered until years later.  If, after discovering the defect, the customer decided to continue using the item, it is considered as though he has forgiven his right to demand a refund and may no longer return the item.

However, in our case, there are many reasons to allow the customer to use the camera, but the main one is the following. Pischei Teshuvah (232:1) discusses the case of someone who purchased a horse. After travelling a great distance, he discovered a blemish that cancels the sale.  On the one hand, he should not be permitted to use the horse, since doing so would be an indication that the blemish is not significant, and he would no longer be able to demand a refund.  On the other hand, he is stuck in this distant location with no means of being able to return.  Pischei Teshuvah rules that in a case of oness such as this, the customer is permitted to ride the horse to return home and cancel the sale.  The use of the term oness is not specific and is not intended to mean that there was no alternative.  The term is meant to convey the fact that use of the item does not communicate a mechila.  As such, in our case using the camera is to avoid what otherwise would be an inconvenience.  We therefore do not interpret the use of the camera as a mechila and thus it would be permitted to use it until it can be returned.

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Please be advised: These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision.

(YWN Desk – NYC)

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