Throwback to last summer when Amazon's market cap was approaching $1 trillion, Jeff Bezos was being heralded as "the richest man in the world" and $AMZN was being accused of creating a retail monopoly/violating anti-trust laws. I'm here to tell you why that's not the case... the monopoly/anti-trust part!
I find it strange how 99% of retailers are scrambling to get the consumer to start spending and build customer loyalty through rewards programs, etc., (Eye on you Amazon (AMZN), Target (TGT) and Best Buy (BBY)) meanwhile they have some of the worst return policies on the planet! This morning I discussed the best and worst return policies on NPR's "The Takeaway." Really JCrew (JCG)? Are you REALLY not going to let me return a sale item for a full refund? Ugh. Here are my notes from the interview:
What do you think is the ideal/fair return policy? I think a full refund (which very few stores rarely do) is fair, OR return/exchange a gift without a reciept which is what H&M is doing. Target (TGT) is also sort of doing that just as long as the price of gift does not exceed $70 in one year.
What do you think is an unfair policy?
Definitely "final sale" at J Crew (JCG) on sale items. What is that all about? Also,
Amazon (AMZN) has 29 different product-specific return policies in addition to it's regular one for example: -most unopened items can be returned within 30 days -items they do not accept back: Hazardous materials, Kindles (after 30 days), downloadable software products, gourmet baskets, health and beauty products, some jewelry AND If the value is $75 must have a tracking method, items at $500 must be insured. If you are missing orgininal documentation, there will be a 15% re-stocking fee. Annoying!
JC Penny (JCP) requires special occasion dresses to be returned with the "return tag" still in place which prevents people from wardrobing i.e., buying wearing once, and then returning it.
Overstock.com has a 60% restocking fee for some open used or late items.
Office Max will not accept returns of opened cameras and software unless it is defective.
I don't think a lot of people are fully aware of these return policies at these stores.
What kind of the hardest items to return? Undergarments, swimsuits, software, electronics (due to restocking fees, shorter time to return the item and sometimes stores won't take them back at all).
If I have to retun a gift for a store online do you have suggestions on how to make this return as EASY as possible? Do your research- most stores do not post their return policies for example, Best Buy lengthened its holiday return period for most items by one to three weeks (until Jan. 31st) but computers still have their 14 day return policy so computer bought on Black Friday can not be returned.
Ask about re-stocking fees: If an item is open add the fee, 30% from Overstock.com, Macys, 15%
Be aware of the tier method (what Amazon and Best Buy (BBY) are doing) : apparel that might have a different date you can return at vs. different than electronics
Buy things on your credit card in case you lose your reciepts: I tend to have about 1,000 slips of paper in my wallet/handbag and the most important reciepts get lost in the tsunami of paper. If you put purchases on your credit card the retailer can pull it up your purchase more quickly.