Returns are not what they used to be. And that makes me happy. Finally, retailers who collectively lose from return fraud each year have had it up to here with immoral and unethical shoppers who take advantage of return policies. Good, honest consumers pay for their crimes in higher prices. And that burns me up!
I applaud any return policy that says, "No way!" to the person who buys a new cam-corder on Friday, shoots a wedding on Saturday and then returns it for a full refund on Monday. I'm happy to support any policy designed to stop the practice of "wardrobing"—buying clothes to be worn to specific event then returned for a full refund the next day.
Sure, tough return policies do preclude all of us from buying stuff willy-nilly, assuming that if we change our minds we can just bring it back for a refund whenever we get around to it. And what's wrong with that?
Maybe we've become too cavalier when it comes to shopping. Tightening up our selections on the front end is probably a good thing.
I hate to think of all the times I intended to take something back but just didn't get around to it. There the unused appliance or clothing item sat in a cupboard or closet through several seasons of procrastination before coming to its final resting place in a yard sale or the Goodwill bag. Perhaps a less-than-generous return policy in the beginning would have discouraged me from acting so generous with my wallet in the first place.
The way I see it, tighter refund policies will go a long way to stop immoral shoppers, and at the same time, make good consumers even better.
Planning to return any holiday gifts? Remember these tips:
1) Keep those . If it's electronic, make sure the box is sealed—that means not opened, not tested, not used—in its original packaging. Clothing? Better have the tags attached and not even a hint that any items have been worn.
2) Watch the calendar. If you miss the window of opportunity to return for a refund, you'll be out of luck and reduced to trying to unload the item on eBay. and share a 14-day return period on all things digital. needs to receive your return within 30 days, while has a somewhat more generous 90-day policy. , the hugely popular online shopping site, makes no bones about its : "Returns that do not meet our requirements will be sent back to you and no refund will be issued."
3) Find out about "restocking fees." If you've got all your packaging and your dates in order, even then you could be charged a restocking fee (Sears charges 15 percent on a long list of items), end up with store credit instead of the cash or be tagged a frequent returner by Return Exchange of Irvine, California, and be banned from returning at certain stores altogether.
Think it's not so terrible to return an item you've worn or used already? Post your opinions in comments.