The worst return policy I’ve ever seen

11Jan11

I recently received a gift that I wanted to exchange for a different version of the same product. The retailer has locations in shopping malls throughout the country, including one that’s only a short walk from where I live. But when I checked the return policy — both on their website and by calling the nearest location — I learned that an exchange would be a lot harder than I envisioned.

According to the company’s return policy, let’s assume you have:

– A new, unopened product

– That the retail locations currently sell

– With the original receipt from one of those locations

Even with all these things working in your favor, you still can’t bring that product back to the store to exchange it for another version of the product, which costs the exact same amount. Instead, you have to call the main office, get an RMA number, mail it back to them at your expense, and wait 4-6 weeks for them to send you the replacement.

Now, I can understand why they’d have more restrictive policies for situations where you’re asking for a refund, or the product was already opened, or it’s an older model that they can’t just put back into inventory. But the scenario I’m describing involves none of those things. Yet the company still makes customers jump through an absurd series of hoops to swap one product for another.

This policy runs counter to how virtually every other retail store works. By violating what customers expect is a basic right of shoppers — the ability to exchange one brand-new product for another at the company’s official retail locations — the manufacturer in question is setting customers up for a huge disappointment. I don’t know if these overly restrictive policies represent a recent change in how they handle returns and exchanges. But I have to believe that it’s going to hurt their sales numbers, especially once their current and prospective customers find out that even the simplest product exchange is a hugely complicated and frustrating endeavor.



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