Returns Season Starts
By Tom Ryan
a survey of retailers by the National Retail Federation, 6.4 percent of
holiday returns are expected to be fraudulent this year. At the same time,
numerous articles in the general media this past weekend warned consumers
about over-stringent return policies.
the NRF, returns are expected to cost the retail industry an estimated
$2.7 billion this holiday season and $9.6 billion this year. According
to the survey of 134 retailers, 69 percent have changed their company’s
return policy to combat fraud, 16.9 percent tightened their policies, and
3.8 percent relaxed theirs. About one-third (28 percent) said their return
policy is more flexible during the holidays than it is during the course
of the year.
Among the issues
driving fraud, 93.1 percent of retailers said stolen merchandise has been
returned to their stores in the past year, 75.4 percent have experienced
returns of merchandise purchased with fraudulent or stolen tender, and
43.1 percent have experienced returns using counterfeit receipts. Nearly
half (46.2 percent) also report that wardrobing — the return of used,
non-defective merchandise like special occasion apparel and certain electronics
— has been an issue for their company within the past year.
Denver Post notes that some stores are easing up on what consumers
can and cannot bring back and when. Best Buy extended its holiday return
policy by a couple weeks but computers are still the standard 14-day
return policy. Target is accepting returns without a receipt, limited
to $70 in a year.
But Edgar Dworsky,
founder of the internet resource site Consumer World, which makes an annual
review of stores’ holiday return policies, said consumers should be wary
about return policies on different items. Some stores and websites charge
restocking fees from 15 percent some places to as high as 60 percent for
used or late returns at overstock.com.
Here, some other
noted return policies:
has a 90-day return policy on most items; 15 days on PCs, GPS; 30 days
on cameras; 45 days on PC accessories. Days counted begin Dec. 26.
has supplemented its regular return policy with 29 different product-specific
return policies, including restocking fees up to 20 percent depending on
the item. It generally gives customers until Jan. 31 to return items purchased
between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.
allows returns with or without receipt within 180 days from purchase. It
includes a 10 percent restocking fee on furniture and mattresses.
enables a 120 days on most items, 60 days for electronics, software and
beds; 15 percent restock fee on electronics with missing items.
bought on Home Depot online cannot be returned to stores and customer pays
JC Penney, items can be brought back without a receipt within 90 days, but
the amount of the refund will be based on the lowest on-sale price within
the last 30 days and issued as a store credit.
has no deadline on office supplies; Jan. 9 for electronics and furniture.
Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s both have no time limit for either in-store
or online returns as long as you have a receipt.
questions: Are most retailers’ return policies too strict or too lenient?
In which aspects around returns (days before return, opened/used items,
restocking fees, no receipt, store credit only, etc.) are stores likely overly-strict?
In which areas are they likely too lenient?
- Retailers Find
Balance as Return Policies Assist Honest Shoppers, Fight Fraud – National
- Returning a
gift? Stores tweak policies to reduce fraud – St. Louis Post
- Stores may ease
return policies – The Denver Post
- The best and
worst return policies of the holiday season – Walletpop.com