What is your policy on customer returning used items?
In my industry if the customer uses the product, we can not resell it.
We state that any return should be "in the condition they received it" when they opened the package.
We won't accept returns with missing or ripped outer packaging, where the customer wrote on the packaging or the owner's manual, where the customer broke the seal on the bottle, or in any way inhibited us from re-selling it "as new". It these cases, we recommend they look to eBay to sell it.
We do accept returns for buyer remorse, and we accept them with no time limit (such as 30-days).
I think our return policy is tough and customer-unfriendly. However. we offer a great value with our product catalog, we have low shipping costs, we ship promptly, and replace broken items quickly. But we aren't a try-before-you-buy store, and our return policy makes it difficult to return items, by design.
What happens when a customer calls and says how "disappointed" with the product they are and they have used the product and it is not in the same condition?
Do you refuse to accept it back? Can they charge back the transaction?
Today someone called and said how "disappointed" with the product they were. They were unhappy with the size along with the density of the product. Then they washed the product. They could have determined they were not happy without washing the product.
I started to tell them we can only refund their money back if the product has not been used and is in resell-able condition.
The customer started getting upset with this policy, and I agree to honor their return.
Except for the largest retailers like Walmart, that are so big that they can just chalk it up... I can't think of too many places that would accept something back that was washed. At least, not if they knew. And I'm pretty sure most of the public knows this. It's a pretty well established rule. So when people get mad over stuff like that, you have to wonder if they're faking it, just to make you uncomfortable and give in. It depends on how much you'll lose and every situation is different. If you;re not losing much, and you think the person will make your life miserable... then maybe just chalk it up. If not, then I would stick to my guns. I usually explain to them that we lose money by taking something back and generaly don;t have a 'try it out' sort of return policy. Then I work with them to try and fix the problem and get them to be happy. More times than not, I can get them to be happy. But even if they aren't, I can usually wear them down to the point where they give up. If all else fails and they just won't give up, I'll take it back. But I make them work for it. There's really no reason for anybody to not like our stuff, so I don;t feel guilty doing that. If I had a policy of letting people try stuff, I'd be broke.
|I think our return policy is tough and customer-unfriendly. However. we offer a great value with our product catalog, we have low shipping costs, we ship promptly, and replace broken items quickly. But we aren't a try-before-you-buy store, and our return policy makes it difficult to return items, by design. |
You definitely have to pick your strategy, liberal or harsh, and go with it. There's a clear relationship between the liberalness of a return policy for a store and their prices. You can utterly not be the the price leader and have a liberal return policy.
But, at the same time, don't surprise the customer. Make it completely clear upfront your return policy. Don't bury it as a footnote or in your FAQs.
More times than not, I can get them to be happy. But even if they aren't, I can usually wear them down to the point where they give up. If all else fails and they just won't give up, I'll take it back.
Unfortunately, that's what we have to do too. Many customers are used to a brick-and-mortar "return it because I decided I like red better than blue" policy. If you respond to them right away with a prepaid label, with no return fee, and requiring no explanation, you're going to get a lot of returns. Probably a third of our RMA requests never get followed up on if we simply ask "what was wrong with the product?".
Our strategy is as follows:
1) Request photos of any defects, if applicable.
2) If the customer's defect seems questionable, we inform them it likely won't be returnable, and offer them a substantial discount on a replacement (they like this as often they'll get to keep their original item and get a new one).
3) We send them a PDF with our return policy, which outlines our policies in the harshest terms (item will be refused if packaging is damaged, etc.). Sending a PDF, rather than a simple plain text email, is key. It makes the customer aware this is your store policy and you're not just making it up on the fly.
In the end, returns are inevitable and you will have to accept some. It's critical to keep the % of returns as low as possible though.
Thank you for the reply. I do have our return policy in PDF and always direct our customers to it. Sometimes they dont even bother with the return because it is too much work.
For the customer we just had, it seems like she had already made up her mind and was not happy with the product. There was no reason for her to wash them.
I don't mind refunding or exchanging the return, as long as it is in resell-able condition.
There are major differences in how far you can go depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on.
Without specifying your location you may end up being advised to do things that are against the law where you live.
Also, what do you tell the customer if they send back the product and it is not in resellable condition and used?
Do you tell them we can't aceept it and not give them a refund? Can they charge it back?
In the UK, the Distance Selling Regulations apply. There's only a small number of exemptions. For everything else, the customer has 7 days to return it and get a full refund.
|what do you tell the customer if they send back the product and it is not in resellable condition and used? |
If you receive a used item, contact the customer (email is best, as it's documented), explain that it doesn't meet your return policy (give them the URL to your policy), and what would you like us to do with this package?
If you've previously vetted their explanation, and given them a return authorization number, then they either lied about the condition of the item, or you didn't check their story good enough (in which case, you're out of luck).
If they lied, take photos of the item, send them copies, and ask how they wish to dispose of the package. Do not pay to ship it back; if they want it back, they should pay. Otherwise, throw it in the trash.
If they simply returned a used item with no prior communication, throw it in the trash. You have proof of prior delivery, they didn't contact you, they returned an empty package, and they have no right to a refund or a chargeback claim.