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