The buying of Christmas presents will soon give way to the returning of whatever doesn’t fit or isn’t wanted and that annual tradition could cause trouble for some consumers.
Marketing professor Miro Copic, from San Diego State University, said a growing number of retailers are making it more difficult to return merchandise in an effort to thwart chronic returners.
“Just this holiday season they’re expecting 3 and a half billion dollars in returns out of the 9 billion roughly that will be returned all year and that is actually more in returns than all of Cyber Monday sales combined,” said Copic.
“If you have constant returns, it just takes away from your bottom line,” said Brian See, who works for a small business.
He doesn’t fault retailers for cracking down on offenders.
Tightening up return policies isn’t “just” about fighting frivolous returns; it’s also about fighting fraud. That’s the bigger reason a growing number of merchants have begun creating return profiles on their customers.
“Stores now require you to show ID,” said Copic, “If you’ve returned over a certain number of items over say a 90-day period or 120-day period, the next time you won’t be able to return.”
Luz Gonzalez from Brooklyn understands the need to fight fraud, but not at the expense of an honest consumer.
“What if you’re a person that’s really hard to shop for and you get lots of gifts from people and because you’re so hard to shop for, you return things that you don’t love, you become a chronic returner? I don’t think that’s fair,” said Gonzales.
Desiree Shaw from Cleveland had no idea retailers were tracking her returns.
“It does surprise me but I guess that’s what retailers have to do since people apparently do a lot of it,” she said.
The primary intent of tracking returns, according to Copic, is to stop thieves from returning stolen merchandise or from creating new tags in an effort to claim higher exchange prices.
Shorter return times and restocking fees may also become a routine part of the shopping experience as retailers continue their efforts to crack down on illegal, unethical and frivolous behavior, a reality that Gonzalez shouldn’t have to worry about and yet in the future, she will.
“I wouldn’t have given any thought at all, but it’s something that I think we should start to consider.”