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Retailers tightening return policies this year

Shipping costs and return fraud prompts crackdown.
Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-26 08:59:53-05

The day after Christmas kicks off a marathon week of holiday returns.

But, be warned: Not all returns these days are simple, as some retailers tighten their once-generous policies.

Alice Yu recently needed to return a $30 pair of leggings, but couldn't believe what the cashier wanted.

"I had to provide my name, address, phone number and all the personal information just to get my money back," she said.

For several years, many stores have asked for your driver's license to make a return, in an attempt to cut down on fraud.

But now, some retailers are tightening their policies even more due to the rise of online shopping.

Shipping costs, fraud lead to crackdown

Smart shopping expert Trae Bodge says on top of monitoring returns more closely, fewer stores are offering free returns and more are charging shipping or restocking fees.

"Retailers are really trying to figure out how they can allow consumers to return but also not have to shoulder all the expense," she said.

A recent survey by the company Happy Returns found consumers actually prefer in-person, box-free returns, according to co-founder David Sobie.

"No one wants to have to print a label and find a box," he said.

Most importantly, he said, "shoppers don't want to have to wait, and constantly check their credit card statement for two to three weeks to make sure a refund has actually happened."

To make sure returns are stress-free, Sobie says:

  • Check a company's return deadline.
  • Look up what information you'll have to provide before checkout.
  • Buy from retailers that let you return in-person or through a third-party service like Happy Returns.

Sobie says more and more, shoppers are considering return policies before they buy.

"They're looking at that return policy and thinking 'how much of a hassle is this gonna be if this item doesn't work out,'" he said.

Yu still isn't happy sharing so much info.

"You don't know where that information goes," she said.

Yu suggests you check return policies before you buy, not afterward, so you don't waste your money.

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