Exchange – All Change – Return To The Shop…

DSC_1446I can’t decide whether retail law and practice is wise or foolish – and whether those two descriptions also apply to buyers and sellers…The turning point of this speculation is the business of changing your mind and then compelling others to agree with you.

Perhaps I should amend that – forcing others to obey you would be a more accurate phrase – because that is what retail law becomes sometimes.

Let’s put up a hypothetical. John buys a camera from The Camera Shop. He takes it home and it is faulty under a week. He is entitled under state law to bring it back for a full refund or replacement. None of us can argue with him, or with that – and we think it is a good a fair way to treat things. The camera makers understand the problem and can bear it.

If it goes bad in 11 months he is still covered – the camera is sent to the manufacturers for assessment and repair or replacement.  If the shop is wise they will lend him a replacement for the service time as a courtesy, but are not required by law to do so. Again pretty sensible behaviour.

But here’s the fun part – some customers regret their purchases, change their minds, see a similar device cheaper on-line or in another store, or are set upon by their wives for spending too much money. And they want to return the goods even if the goods are functioning perfectly. This is the point that the threats and theatrics begin, because state law does not compel the retailer to return the goods or money for these reasons – only if it is faulty or misrepresented.

The return of goods means they have lost sale value despite the protestations of the customer – they can never go out again as new goods. If the retailer shrugs and does accept a return it must be upon a much smaller monetary basis than when it went out and the customer has no leverage in this, despite their desire for gain.

You cannot post signs in a shop that tries to be welcoming saying ” Think Before You Buy, You Stupid Bastard”. Not if you wish to attract custom. There are various kinder forms of advice that we see, but these are generally worded so as to communicate with the smarter types and not to address the greediest of the lot.

It’s not just retail cameras – I watched a difficult customer in our local Cheesecake Shop try to return a cake that his wife didn’t fancy. Totally forbidden under state health regulations but the difficult customer tried every form a threat and persuasion to force his way. Fortunately the shop was full of other clients who backed the serving girl up in her refusal to be bullied.

I wish some of those regs applied to other shops…




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