3 On Your Side: Store Return Policies

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Now that all of the presents are opened and you’ve had time to try on or try out those gifts, there’s a good chance that some of those items will be headed back to the store. But as 3 On Your Side’s Jim Donovan found, making returns may not be as easy this holiday season.

Remember the good old days when most stores would take back just about anything? No receipt, no tags, no problem! Marketing expert Susan Dobscha says, “There was this whole idea of relationship marketing. Let’s build relationships with the consumers, and by doing that we build trust and loyalty, that means they’ll be repeat purchasers.”

But odds are you’ll need more than a receipt these days. More retailers are requiring a photo ID, a home address, phone numbers and even email information before you can make an exchange. We were asked to provide a driver’s license when we returned a couple of items that we had purchased at Victoria’s Secret in the Moorestown Mall. When we asked the company about their return policy, they told us – “Our return and exchange policy is designed to decrease return fraud while safeguarding customers’ personal information.”

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In fact, fraud is a growing concern for many retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, criminals are returning stolen goods without receipts, in some cases even crafting fake receipts. Joe LaRocca of the National Retail Federation says, “They will make near perfect replicas of sales receipts to do these returns.”

But cutting down on fraud isn’t the only motivation. Some retailers are gathering your data for marketing purposes.

Consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky says shoppers have rights to a point. He says, “Technically a merchant has to disclose their return policy clearly and conspicuously before you buy. Could an argument be made that they also have to say, we are going to require personal identification when you return the goods? It’s a little bit of a gray area.”

Stores are also tracking for “repeat returners”. Bring back too many things over a short period of time, and you run the risk of being shut off altogether.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS3

More from Jim Donovan

One Comment

  1. Tammy Brown-Dean says:

    Back in september I went on line looking for grants to return to school. After a bout with cancer and two brain surgeries for five years ; I need to go back to work but I needed to reeducate my self. So I tried to find grants to help with the cost. A site came up as a government grant organization. I entered my information and was later contact by The American Finance Resource Company. After I spoke to Eric Stein I check the better business burrer and saw they had an A rating so I though it would be ok to work with this company. They requested $389.00 to locate a grant for my husband and i. If no grant was found they would return $300,00 of the money back to us. they lied. After receiving our money, that we could not afford to spend Michael Brooks the manager sent us a report about loans only . We contacted the company an michael was rude an none caring after they took our money by misleading us about grants. Please help us with this situation. Thank you in advance Tammy Brown-Dean I did start The Art Institute of Philadelphia for fashion design and I’m having a difficult time with my book purchases. The grant was to be for home improvements.I didn’t let that stop me but I still need Help with school and our home improvements.

  2. sandra phelps says:

    am trying to find a phone number for help with a problem for my disabled aunt

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