I once knew a serial returner. She would come to work several days a week with several bags of merchandise from several different stores. I asked her about it one day and she smiled, saying that she returns about 60% of everything that she buys. 60 percent. The only thing I could think of was what a horrible waste of time and energy for everyone involved. Who would want to go to stores and go through customer service returns that often? She reasoned that she needed to take things home to see if she really liked them or not. I guess what her habit really meant was that about 60% of the time she made purchases she did not need or want. Perhaps she should have just slept on whether or not to make a purchase instead of returning so many of them afterwards.
Serial returners, procrastinating returners, and returners who expect a full refund beware: there are return policies out to get you. There are many reasons for stores to offer sub-par return policies, such as trying to curb serial returners, offsetting the cost of handling products that need to be refurbished to be resold, and sometimes it’s a way to earn extra profit. No matter what the motivation is, sub-par return policies are much more prevalent than I had thought. I was so used to seeing the standard return policies that allow returns of products within 30-90 days for store credit or full refund so long as the merchandise is in new condition and with/without receipt that when a sub-par policy caught my eye I decided to do more research.
Beware Return Procrastinators
I guess it makes sense in the speedy digitalized age that returns are as fast-paced as the market moves. The refund policy for Android Apps is 15 minutes from the time of download of the application, which is possible one of the shortest return policies in existence. Then again, Apple iTunes Store does not allow any refunds for Apps.
Beware Serial Returners
On the back of a Children’s Place receipt you will find the following, “…We will accept your receipted return if it is your 4th or earlier return in the last 60 days. We will accept your return without a receipt if it is your 2nd or earlier return in the last 60 days and you have not been denied or warned a return in the past 60 days.”
The Limited clothing store allows for a total of $300 in returns in any 90-day period for items without a receipt. This will only give you a merchandise exchange or a merchandise credit. They actually refer you to a site where you can track your in-store return history called The Retail Exchange (the link on their website is broken). You can also call this number: 1-800-652-2331.
Beware Returners Who Expect a Full Refund
Certain stores charge a restocking fee for returning a product, so you will not be issued a full refund. While this is largely seen from electronics retailers, I found the following policy on Home Depot’s website, “Special order returns are subject to 15% restocking fee. Cancellations may be subject to 15% restocking fee”. It should be noted that typically products can be returned to Home Depot for a full refund without a restocking fee. Mattress Giant offers a 21-100 night comfort guarantee where you can return the mattress for a one-time exchange for another mattress of equal or lesser value. However, there is a $175 restocking fee to do so. Bloomingdale’s has a generous 5 year comfort guarantee on mattresses; however, there is a reselection fee of between 10%-50%.
NewEgg.com (a popular electronics online store) has a 15% restocking fee because they want “…to encourage customers to purchase products they intend to keep.” A restocking fee is especially hefty for purchasing wireless devices and services. Verizon Wireless allows returns of purchases for wireless devices and services within 14 days; however, there is a hefty $35 restocking fee, and a $70 restocking fee for netbooks and tablets. Furthermore, “If you return your merchandise, even by mistake, after the return period, you will not receive a refund and the merchandise you returned will not be returned to you.” Sprint has a $35 restocking fee on upgraded devices. AT&T has a $35 restocking fee for netbooks and all devices purchased at AT&T stores, as well as a 10% restocking fee on all tablets, iPhones, and iPads (except if they are unopened).
A Possible Return Back Up Policy
If you are trying to legitimately return an item and the store will not accept it for whatever reason, there is a possible back up. If you paid by credit card you can typically dispute the charge through your credit card company. The credit card company will act as a mediator of sorts to get you your money back. Also, many credit card companies have their own Return policies where you actually return the item to your credit card company. They will act as mediator with the retailer; upon successful mediation, you mail the item in and they refund your credit card. Please note that every credit card company is different, and they do have their own stipulations and limitations that you must meet in order to qualify. Check out the terms for your credit card below and/or contact your credit card company to make sure that your particular card is covered: