WJTV News Channel 12 - RALEIGH: Return policies after Christmas tougher this year

Stores make returning items tougher

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To try and prevent frivolous returns and outright fraud, retailers are creating what they call customer profiles;  in other words, they are actually keeping track of people's returns. To try and prevent frivolous returns and outright fraud, retailers are creating what they call customer profiles; in other words, they are actually keeping track of people's returns.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

For many, the day after Christmas means a return to the stores – both to look for bargains and to return of gifts they don't like.

But, this year, many retailers are getting tougher with exchange policies because they are losing billions as the result of fraudulent returns.

"They're expecting $3.5 billion in returns out of the $9 billion roughly that will be returned all year," explained retail analyst Miro Copic of San Diego State.

Those numbers come from a National Retail Federation survey that also reports that 5.8 percent of retail returns are fraudulent.

Stores are also toughening return policies to cut down on fraud.

Reggie Dix came to the Kmart on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh to return an item that was too big for his granddaughter and was surprised by the new return policy.

"They said there was a policy change, so I had to come in early and make sure I got the returns so I could get a new product," Dix said.

To try and prevent frivolous returns and outright fraud, retailers are creating what they call customer profiles; in other words, they are actually keeping track of people's returns.

"Stores now require you to show ID. If you've returned over a certain number of items over say a 90-day period or 120-day period, the next time you won't be able to return," said Copic.

The most important rule of returns: keep that receipt.

"I'm actually from Massachusetts and bought it there and brought it down here, but didn't bring the receipt because I wasn't thinking that you need to bring a receipt from Massachusetts," said Vanessa Pimencel, who was trying to exchange a Wii system for the correct model.

Eventually, Kmart did exchange her system, but her story indicates the need to know a store's return policies.

Many folks aren't just returning things. Once they get in the store, they're enticed by post-Christmas sales.

"We saw a lot of items today 70 per cent off, said," Michelle Hinton, who had come to exchange an item and saw lots of merchandise at deep discount.

"I'll pick up a lot of extra stuff that's on sale today—because they have a lot of good sales going on," Pimencel said.

Turns out, post-Christmas sales are better than ever this year as stores try and make up for what's being called the worst selling season since the depression of 2008,and customers are taking advantage of that for the next few days.

"There's still tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday," said bargain hunter Karen Young.

She figures the discounts will get deeper in the next few days as stores try and clear out old inventory.

"So far, I found really good deals on men's clothing and for children's clothing,' said shopper Lisa Fetsch, who found discounts ranging from 50 per cent to 65 per cent.

But, will it be enough to rescue the retail selling season? Retail analysts aren't sure and say they will have to wait until the final cash count is completed at the end of the season.

Tips For Returning Purchases

  • Bring your receipt
  • Make sure you have your ID
  • Be prepared to pay a restocking fee
  • Make sure the item is in returnable condition

 

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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