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Make Too Many Returns? You Could Be Banned From Some Chain Stores


Admit it: When you’re shopping for kids’ clothes, say, or a new cell phone case, you often buy a few different sizes and colors — you keep the ones that work the best and return the rest.

No big deal, right? After all, so many of our big-box retailers have generous return policies. (That’s, like, the whole point of shopping at a chain store!)

But these generous return policies may not, in fact, be so generous. (See L.L. Bean, which shocked the world when they abandoned their lifetime return policy last month — even prompting a lawsuit.)

And now, a story for the Wall Street Journal discloses that other stores, like Best Buy, hire a company called Retail Equation, which “scores” customers’ shopping behavior and can impose a ceiling on how much merchandise they can return — effectively banning some shoppers from returning or exchanging things.

This is despite Best Buy’s stated policy of 15 days (with receipt).

Take the story of real estate agent Jake Zakhar, 41, who tried to return three cell phone cases at Best Buy. He was told he wouldn’t be allowed to make returns for an entire year. (What the what?!?) “I’m being made to feel like I committed a crime,” he told the Journal. “When you say habitual returner, I’m thinking 27 video games and 14 TVs.”

Other behaviors that could get you in hot water, according to the article: returning too many items within a short period of time; returning something that people have a tendency to steal; or returning an item at closing time.

Such policies aren’t limited to electronics. Retail Equation also works with Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, J.C. Penney, and Home Depot, among others. (Some stores, the Journal added, use the service only to track returns without receipts.)

Still. For those of us who rely on “hassle-free returns” to, you know, clothe our families and buy gifts and stuff, the possibility of a returns blacklist is kind of major. (Retail Equation told the Journal its services are used in 34,000 stores, but declined to give details.) What would happen if any of us get “banned” from making exchanges at stores like Toys R Us or The Children’s Place? What will we do when our kid’s next birthday rolls around?

(Image by Nicholas Eckhart/Wikimedia Commons)

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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