Numbers November | The art of the return

AMtoPM online shopping

So you’ve done some shopping – maybe some online shopping – and you’ve come home, surveyed your bounty and there’s something wrong.

You’re not completely happy with your purchases. It could be a myriad of reasons that boil down to two problems: the total is a bit higher than you expected to spend or you don’t absolutely love what you’ve bought.

If you’re like me, you loathe returning things. I used to keep things even though I wasn’t completely happy with a purchase – half-heartedly using up the product and very much looking forward to the day I could chuck it. A lot of reasons were at play. Mainly I am quite meek and hate to go in and return things and I used to try a lot of things. Experimentation helps narrow down the field of what you like and what works for you, but it increases the number of products and items to be relegated in the disappointment pile.

I’m more discerning about my products now, so buyer’s remorse isn’t something I’m familiar with anymore. Thank goodness. 

Here are some tips to making returns a less painful experience.

1. First things first, check if you can return. | A bit of an obvious one, but definitely check to see if you can return a product so you don’t have to face the embarrassing moment where you have to take back your purchases from the till and head home.

2. Check the store’s return policy. | Can you return for full cash back? Can you return for store credit? What can you return: unopened and unused items, sale items or all items purchased? When is the deadline for returns? Is it a week, 14 days or a month?

Can you return items through the post or in-store only? What about return shipping – is that included or do you eat the cost?

Knowing this is incredibly helpful with returns. Particularly if you run into problems with customer service. If you are unlucky enough to be pressured or led to believe otherwise in returning, it’s helpful to know what you can and cannot return.

A knowledgeable consumer is an empowered consumer!

3. Keep track of all that you may need to return. | If you’re thinking of returning something, make sure you keep all the material you will need for it. Keep receipts, the box, the shipping invoice any packaging or tags that came with it. If you do decide to return, it makes it a lot easier – and feasible – to go and return.

3. Return the product in a polite, but firm way.* | Nine times out of ten you won’t run into problems with returning.

Just a polite, “Hello, I’d like to return this.” will suffice.

Very rarely will you come across a store or employee who won’t want you to return and convince you to take back the item.

If you’re well within your rights to do so and you don’t love what you’re returning, don’t be cowed.

If you’re prompted to provide a reason you can politely say the product doesn’t suit you.

“It doesn’t suit me” is always a good reason and if prompted and you’re comfortable with saying exactly why you’re returning, feel free to do so.

If an employee redirects you to an alternative product, but you just aren’t in the mood to buy something politely redirect them and say you will come back to browse at another time.

If an employee straight up tells you you can’t return (though you know you can), politely ask to speak with the manager. Ask them in the same polite manner for a return.

Always maintain a polite and confident persona when returning. That sounds weird and obvious, but don’t come across as nervous or too apologetic. I’ve done that on occasion and I always end up spending more time trying to get my return. The struggle is too much effort, there have been times I just go home and try to return it at another time.

*If you are returning things via parcel, lucky you! You either don’t need to provide a reason for your return or you fill out a very simple checklist.

Shipping and returning is also streamlined, though take care to ship it back how they want (often in original packaging, whether you need to use a courier) and make sure to note when you mailed your return, in case you need to speak to customer service.


Returns always suck, but hopefully these tips will make it a more bearable
experience for you. If you have have more tips and want to add to the list,
feel free to do so in the comments below or via social media!

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