(That’s even a question?)
In “Returning used stuff – cool or no?,” J. Money said he wrote back to the reader saying, among other things, that this was a question of personal ethics. The blogger added that he would not return anything unless it was broken or otherwise not delivering on its promise.
(In his wild youth he’d returned a used boombox two days before the return window expired, and was thoroughly shamed by the customer service rep before he got his refund. Lesson learned!)
The reader then shared that he’d needed to move and “just couldn’t throw out my bedroom set that was in perfect condition and 10 years old.” (Emphasis added.) So he took it back to Costco and, unbelievably, the store refunded his money.
“I felt weird about it,” the reader noted, “but it was one less thing I had to deal with when moving…Ethical, no, but within the rules.”
Anyone but me having a big ol’ WTF? moment right now?
Call a ‘return’ what it really is
One commenter mentioned the phrase “return to vendor.” Naturally my mind made the jump to hyperspace and “Return To Sender” began earwigging its way through my mind. Within 10 minutes I’d written my own comment with that Elvis hit in mind.
First, the original (to remind you of the tune):
Now, my (slightly rewritten) comment:
Return to vendor?
It’s used or dirty,
Resale value blown.
A tacky practice,
Not a frugal hack,
You buy it, use it and then (you sleaze!)
You take it back.
We all find ourselves payin’ the price
For your “super deal.”
When retail costs go up,
How do you think we feel?
Return to vendor?
I don’t think so!
Adult-up and get some class
You cheap mofo!
The buying, using and returning of products is so common that there’s a neologism for it: “wardrobing.”
I wonder whether people would still want to do it if it were called “fraud,” or “stealing.”
Costing us all
Sometimes it’s possible to get away with this sort of thing, if you’re really careful about getting the items dirty (and if you don’t perspire much). But something that’s obviously used can’t be sold as new, so retailers take the hit – and they take it many thousands of times per year.
Wardrobing is so prevalent that many stores require at least one form of photo ID and keep detailed records. In fact, a J. Money reader noted that a friend’s mother has been banned from Bed Bath & Beyond. Apparently she was buying, using and returning sheets, towels and dishes every six months. (Keep it classy, Mom!)
Just as with credit card fraud, the cost gets passed along to consumers. You’re not sticking it to The Man, but rather to your fellow shoppers – and, maybe, to yourself. Picture this: You want to buy something stylish and it looks great in the dressing room. Then you get it home and realize it’s got sweat stains or a little cigarette burn on the sleeve.
How does it feel to wear somebody else’s fraudulent behavior? Make sure to bring your driver’s license when you take the item back to the store. And remember: You might now be on a frequent-buyer list and not allowed to return the item. Karma’s a bummer sometimes – especially if the customer service clerk were to accuse you of damaging the garment.
What say you, readers: How far should a return policy be stretched?