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gottaBKD

Buyer Beware – Or Return At A Cost.

Posted by gottabkd on Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ever purchase a product from a big box store and think you know the return policy?
Most big box store have a very generous return policy that may even extend to 30 days full refund accompanied with a receipt. Some will give you your money back even without a receipt but with all the packaging and stickers still attached. But all policies are not standard, they vary from company to company and the consumer needs to be aware of this.

I received this email today that warns… Buyer Beware… and went like this:

BEST BUY, MY FOOT
Best Buy has some bad policies….
Normally, I would not share this with others, however, since this could happen to you or your friends , I decided to share it.
If you purchase something from, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, JC Penny, Sears etc. and you return the item with the receipt they will give you your money back if you paid cash, or credit your account if paid by plastic. Well, I purchased a GPS for my car, a Tom Tom XL.S from ‘Best Buy’. They have a policy that it must be returned within 14 days for a refund! So after 4 days I returned it in the original box with all the items in the box, with paper work and cords all wrapped in the plastic. Just as I received it, including the receipt. I explained to the lady at the return desk I did not like the way it could not find store names.
The lady at the refund desk said, there is a 15% restock fee, for items returned. I said no one told me that. I said how much would that be. She said it goes by the price of the item. It will be $45.00 Dollars for you.
I said, all your going to do is walk over and place it back on the shelf then charge me $45.00 of my money for restocking? She said that’s the store policy. I said if more people were aware of it they would not buy anything here!
If I bought a $2000.00 computer or TV and returned it I would be charged $300.00 dollars restock fee? She said yes, 15%. I said OK, just give me my money minus the restock fee.
She said, since the item is over $200.00 dollars, she can’t give me my money back!!! Corporate has to and they will mail you a check in 7 to ten days.!!
I said ‘WHAT?!’ It’s my money!! I paid in cash! I want to buy a different brand..Now I have to wait 7 to 10 days. She said well, our policy is on the back of your receipt. I said, do you read the front or back of your receipt? She said well, the front! I said so do I, I want to talk to the Manager!
So the manager comes over, I explained everything to him, and he said, well, sir they should of told you about the policy when you got the item.
I said, No one, has ever told me about the check refund or restock fee, whenever I bought items from computers to TVs from Best Buy.
The only thing they ever discussed was the worthless extended warranty program. He said Well, I can give you corporate phone number.
I called corporate. The guy said, well, I’m not supposed to do this but I can give you a 45.00 dollar gift card and you can use it at Best Buy.
I told him if I bought something and returned it, you would charge me a restock fee on the item and then send me a check for the remaining 3 dollars.
You can keep your gift card, I’m never shopping in Best Buy ever again, and if I would of been smart, I would of charged the whole thing on my credit card! Then I would of canceled the transaction. I would of gotten all my money back including your stupid fees!
He didn’t say a word!
I informed him that I was going to e-mail my friends and give them a heads up on this stores policy, as they don’t tell you about all the little caveats. So please pass this on. It may save your friends from having a bad experience of shopping at Best Buy.
It’s true! read it for yourself!! Best Buys return policy

So whose responsibility is it to ensure the customer knows the return policy? The store, cashier, sales person, or you? The buyer. How studious are you to know the facts?

Law class 101 says that when YOU purchase any product or service, it is up to you, the buyer, to know what they are getting, what the warranty is, and what the return policy is. How many days the policy applies and to always, always get it in writing.
But we often think we are savvy consumers, savvy enough to assume there is a return policy, savvy enough to think the store/clerks/CSR’s will inform us of the policy (especially on big tickets items) and certainly savvy enough to think a big box retailer has a fair and generous policy. Is it then fair of the retailer to only put the return policy on the back of the receipt, the one you receive AFTER you purchased the product? The back of which no one ever hardly reads…. until they get it home and even not at that point.

I recently purchased a new keyboard and at the time of purchase I asked the clerk “What happens if this does not work with my machine? Can I return it?” The clerk happily said I could return it within 7 days for a full refund, if unopened. I told him that the only way I would know for sure if it would work would be after it was opened. He then told me that I could return the opened product, within 7 days for a full refund, less a restocking fee. Since the keyboard was only 10 bucks, I figured that the most I would be charged is 15% or 1.50CDN (approx), but to be sure I asked how much that would be. He then told me 1$. I then purchased it, tried it and within 7 days returned the unusable product (needed a USB connector). They charged me a 1 dollar restocking fee and refunded the card I used when purchasing.
Happy customer, aware customer and no surprises for either of us. Made for an excellent experience with Canada Computers and as a result, I will be back.

But what about those people who seemingly take advantage of the policies? Here is another example, but this time there is a twist… a major twist.One day while waiting in the customer service line at a big box Canadian “all things car” retailer, better known as Canadian Tire, the man in front of me was returning driveway sealer tar… you know the stuff you cover your driveway with to protect it from the elements.
Since I had nothing better to do while I waited in line, I noticed that all he had with him was a receipt. No product was anywhere to be seen. Being really nosey intrigued by this, I had to lean in closer to fully understand how this man was going to achieve this return without the actual product.
Here is, more or less, how the conversation went:

CSR: Can I help the next person in line please?
Man: Yes, I would like to return some driveway sealer.
CSR: OK may I see your receipt please.
Man: Sure, here you go.
CSR: As she peers over the counter she asks… Is the sealer in your vehicle.. in the parking lot?
Man: No, not exactly.
CSR: But you want to return it?
Man: Yes. But I need you to pick it up.
CSR: You need help getting it from your vehicle to the store.
Man: No.
CSR: Sir, I am not sure if I understand. Let’s go over this together. You purchased some driveway sealer and now you want to return it. But you have not brought it with you and you want us to pick it up? Is that correct?
Man: Yes.
CSR: When you purchased it, did you carry it to your vehicle?
Man: Yes, I put it in my truck and took it home. I opened it, used it and now I want to return it, but I need you to pick it up because the can is open and I don’t want to get tar all over the flatbed.

Me thinking… wow this is going to be a good one. This guy really has nerve. Using the product and then returning it… without bringing it back to the store. How can he admit to using the product, and now want to return it? What is the CSR going to do. In this instance, is the customer always right? Will he get a refund, credit note or go home empty handed? My guess is empty handed….

CSR: Sir, we do not have a pick-up service. You should have returned the product in the condition you purchased it, but you are telling me you opened the product container and now you want to return it? In good faith, how can I give you your money back when you have not even returned the goods? How do I know you have not covered your driveway and just want your money back? Sir, is this a scam?

Me thinking… wow that’s is pretty nervy not only of him for not actually returning the unused portion of the product, but of the CSR who IMHO, calmly and politely accused him of cheating the system.

CSR then picks up the phone and calls the in-house Manager. She turns her back to us and animatedly continues her discussion, hands flying in the air, shoulders shrugging and voice calm and low. The in-house manager, suddenly appears out of nowhere, conversates with the CSR and she promptly processes the refund.

What? Wow, now THAT it customer service I thought.
Not only did the man receive a full refund, he did it without returning the product. Geeesh my return will be quick and simple!

Looks good on the company even if the CSR may have secretly wanted to chew this man out and not give him his money. After all she called someone else for help and you could actually see the defeat on her face when she realized that she would end up completing the return.

Why?…. because…

Canadian Tire has one of the most fair and generous return policies I have seen anywhere. And at this particular time, on this particular day, this particular man hit the jackpot. If he did not deal with this CSR and her manager, the outcome could have been totally different.

I guess the point of this rant is that no matter what you think, where you go, or what the rules say (they often say… “Product must be in its original condition“) it is up to the consumer to know the policies BEFORE the transaction is completed. Otherwise, there could be an outrageous 15% restocking fee that will end up ruining your day should you not educate yourself.

Let the buyer beware!

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