A Final Word on Returns
Returns and exchanges are the dark side of retail, and most merchants would rather talk about something else. But returns, though they come with the territory—especially in this, the month following a busy holiday shopping season—don't always have to mean lost revenue and inefficiency for retailers and suppliers.
There is an endless debate between retailers and suppliers regarding who should bear the responsibility for returned merchandise. The retail perspective is that a customer claims that the product is defective. Store personnel cannot dispute the claim or test a manufacturer's product and therefore, it's the vendor's problem. A manufacturer would respond that less than one-half of one percent of their products are truly defective and that retailers should bear responsibility for their individual return policies. Additionally, retailers expect full credit for returns that are missing parts, missing the free give-away merchandise, or missing the original packaging, adding to merchandiser frustration.
In truth, both parties need to share responsibility, and in the end the consumer will ultimately pay because the price of merchandise will reflect the expense of product returns. The American public has been conditioned to expect that every retailer will take back anything with no questions asked. It may have begun with the Sears policy ("Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back") over a century ago. Now the opportunity for retailers is to provide that satisfaction, avoid the returns or be extremely efficient with the returns that cannot be avoided.