Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Retail Returnaholics

WalletPop recently reported on the trend toward returning items to stores...some of which seems to be driven by fraud, not changes of heart.

It's fraud when shoppers return products after they've been used (think: buy a fancy dress, return it after a big evening out; buy a TV, watch the Super Bowl, and return the TV on Monday). It's fraud when buyers ask a store for a refund on items purchased elsewhere.

According to the National Retail Federation, up to 8% of returns are fraudulent. During the holiday selling season in 2009, this amounted to $2.7 billion.

Efforts to curb fraudulent returns also affect ordinary shoppers who return items for refunds, as the Consumerist points out. When shoppers have to show ID to get a refund, and their names are run through a database to check for refund abuse, the situation shapes up as retailer security vs shopper privacy.

Although only a tiny percentage of shoppers commit fraud, everyone "pays" in one way or another.

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