Retailers crack down on serial returns– 2/18/08
Nearly two-thirds of merchants had items wardrobed (bought, used and then returned) in 2007, up from 56 percent the year before, the first year the National Retail Federation started tracking the trend. Merchants blame tough economic times and a “customer-is-always right” mentality gone too far. They say a growing number of shoppers feel entitled to return used items they no longer want, and probably could not afford in the first place – from costly cocktail dresses for big events to pricey plasma televisions bought exclusively to watch the Super Bowl. So, they are striking back, instituting more restrictive return policies, imposing restocking fees, and keeping a blacklist of serial wardrobers.
Discussion questions: Do you “wardrobe”? Should retailers tighten up policies or continue to take back anything, no questions asked? Click on “comments” below to post your views.
“Renting” or “wardrobing” has always been a reality for retailers with the most common abuse coming from special occasion dresses and shoes. Today’s relaxed morality and difficult personal economics exacerbates the trend. However, the majority of customers do not do practice wardrobing regularly and it is, therefore, a mistake for retailers to build policies based on minority behaviors. Reasonable policies for electronics and social occasion apparel are expected and accepted (i.e. Costco and Neiman Marcus). Unfortunately, most retailers choose to build draconian return policies which irritate or at least intimidate most shoppers. I will shop where I know I need not worry about having to prove why my return is valid. The best defense is technology: tracking return behaviors and targeted the serial wardrobers, leaving the generous return policies in place for the majority of shoppers whose returns are valid.
Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist www.OsorioGroup.com
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