Is it time to return your company’s return policy?

This weekend I was out and about, doing some shopping and returning with my husband, John. We had two things to return with two completely different experiences.

First, we headed to Sports Chalet to exchange a pair of shoes. Unfortunately, John has been having some issues with his knee lately, so he’s been looking for the perfect pair of running shoes. He thought he’d found them. But, after a few runs, he realized they weren’t going to work out. Who’s going to take back a used pair of shoes?

Well, as it turns out, Sports Chalet will. We walked in with the box of shoes. A very nice cashier took the box, apologized that the shoes hadn’t worked out and told John to go pick out a brand new pair. Just like that. He went back, talked to a very knowledgeable sales person, picked out a new pair of shoes and made the exchange. It was that easy. And, guess what? If this pair doesn’t work out, he can take them back as well.

I was struck by this. The pessimistic part of me immediately thought of all of the people that must take advantage of the system. But, then I thought of how great it felt to know that John was going to get a pair of shoes that really worked for him and optimism returned.

Next stop on the returning frenzy – 2B. This is the outlet version of BeBe. Typically, I don’t shop at BeBe. I don’t know if it was the bright lights of Vegas, or the seven appetizers I ate for dinner the night before, but last time I was at the outlet mall in Primm, NV, I decided it would be a great idea to buy a full length, beaded neckline, swimsuit cover. Like I said, I was full of cheese and bacon, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’ll admit, I do still think it was pretty cute. But, once I got it home and into the light of reality, I realized it just wasn’t for me. Unfortunately, there’s not a 2B around here, so I had to wait until I was making a trip to an outlet mall to return it.

Now, I take full responsibility for the fact that I didn’t read the receipt to confirm the store’s return policy. I assumed that it was 30 days, so I still had a few to spare. When I got to the store, the dress was still for sale (full price) so I was happy that someone else would get to enjoy its splendor. Tags on, receipt in hand, I walked up to the counter. I handed everything to the cashier. She informed me that she’d need to get a manager. Fantastic. Her manager (from somewhere in the back) sent her out to tell me that I could not have a refund because the policy expired a couple of days earlier. But they – out of the kindness of their hearts – would exchange it for something else.

Here’s the thing. There wasn’t really anything else I liked in the store. After some back and forth, I was begrudgingly given store credit. Then, before I had a chance to walk out of the store, the manager hung the dress up to be sold again!

The purpose of this article isn’t to call one policy bad and the other good. It’s to point out that return policies are a reflection of customer service and a brand’s commitment to its clients. In my mind, there’s no point in giving store credit to a person who doesn’t like your product. Better customer service might not effect whether or not the person likes your product, but it will impact how much they like your brand.

So, what do you think? What are your favorite return policies? Do you think I should just get over it? Would you like to buy a BeBe gift card from me? 🙂

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About Donna Queza

I'm an optimist grounded in realism. That's what I love about working on the web -- the possibilities to be creative and distinctive are endless, but there's always a need for those reality-driven, data-fueld folks who make our dreams into realities. I like to think I hover somewhere in the middle - creative, quantifiable internet marketing solutions.

4 responses to “Is it time to return your company’s return policy?”

  1. kebperspectives says :

    Wow, there are a lot of issues to address in your post. (Opinion issues of my own.) I do not honestly know where I stand on this issue.

    I love the fact that your husband had luck returning his shoes, and their return policy is wonderful given your husband’s situation. However, I am not certain I would ever purchase shoes from a store knowing that it was possible someone else (possibly with unknown diseases or lack of hygiene) might have had on their feet. Therefore, it is a good and bad policy. It all depends on your perspective of things.

    Second, again, I agree with your point of view on the BeBe policy: it is silly they would not return your money and that their policy is so restrictive. However, it is policy and it was accessible (the information on the policy). I disagree with the policy, but it is policy.

    Also, I do agree with you that the policies reflect customer service perspectives, but I never thought about that before. Thank you for bringing it to my attention! Interesting thought, but I feel like companies should have more market oriented policies, instead of profit oriented policies.

    Thank you for posting, I appreciate your experiences and your opinions!

    • Donna Queza says :

      Thanks so much for the feedback!! In Sports Chalet’s defense, I do not think they resell the shoes. It’s my understanding that they refurbish and donate them, if possible. Otherwise, they’re destroyed. I’m going to do a little more research into this and I’ll post an update soon!

      I also agree with you. As frustrated as I was with the policy, it was stated on the receipt and, at the end of the day, it was my fault for not being more timely. But, it is interesting to think how ever customer touch point (even the return of a product) reflects the brand.

      Thanks again for being such a loyal reader! 🙂

  2. Brooke Franks says :

    @kebperspectives the shoes get sent back to the original manufacturer and marked as defective, which honestly helps everyone because no manufacturer wants to be known for having poor quality products and allows them to make improvements based on user experience…

    I completely agree that companies are failing to have quality return policies. There are countless stores that I no longer shop at because I got tired of their cheap products not holding up and the store not standing behind the things that they sell. What ever happened to accountability?

    Awesome post!

    • Donna Queza says :

      Thanks for the comment, Brooke. Return policies seem to be an often overlooked aspect of customer service. The brands that really understand service and maintaining relationships do a great job of servicing the customer, especially when there’s an issue. And thanks for the clarification on the shoes!

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