Good to know—advice for shoppers in Japan

Avoid any complicated consumer issues by following the points in the guide below

While Japan is a safe shopping and sightseeing destination for international tourists, unexpected problems can still occur at shops and other places of business. Be aware of any potential issues so that you can focus on enjoying your trip.

Defective products

Quality control is generally good in Japan, and defective products are relatively rare. However, it is always possible that you might return home to find that the product you have purchased is broken or unusable. To avoid this happening, bear in mind the following points.

Before purchase

Avoid buying anything that is priced far below the regular value.

Make sure to inspect the product before purchase to confirm it is not damaged or defective.

If you are buying expensive items such as electronics or brand-name goods, make sure the retailer provides a warranty and allows exchanges.

After purchase

It is common sense, but make sure to keep your receipt. If a product you have purchased has a problem, take it to the store you bought it from and request an exchange. Try to keep the product as close to new and unused as you can.

Difficulty in returning a product

As a general rule in Japan, any transactions made in shops are final. Even if the product is unused, most shops will not allow returns or give refunds if there is nothing wrong with it. This means you cannot return something because you decide you no longer want or need it.

Traveling can be busy and stressful, and you might find yourself making spontaneous purchases that you later regret. Be aware of this during your shopping expeditions and try to make calm and rational purchases. Note however that you can request an exchange for any defective products.

Pressurized into a tax-free purchase

The majority of tax-free shops in Japan provide a safe and enjoyable shopping experience where visitors can take advantage of great shopping at lower-than-regular prices. However, in recent times, there have been a few reported problems from international visitors regarding certain tax-free shops and products.

These issues have included false information regarding tax-free shops, the products sold there, and time limits being given on shopping time encouraging rushed purchases. Quick research into tax-free shopping in Japan and the types of products that you wish to buy will help avoid any of these issues.

Be extra cautious if you hear guides or store clerks say things like “This store is XX percent cheaper than other shops,” “Japanese people all use this product” or “This is your only chance to buy this product”. While these cases are very rare, it is important to use common sense.

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