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From a Retail Worker: Let’s Talk About Returns

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

Returns. Nobody likes them. Retail workers do not like processing them; shoppers do not like making them.  

As a shopper, I absolutely hate making returns. It is disappointing when you purchase something that you do not end up liking or that doesn’t work out for some reason. Having to make a trip back to the store to bring them back is a pain. It is also nerve-racking when you realize that you do not have everything necessary to make the return, like the receipt or tags.

However, once I started working in retail, I realized they are so much worse for the employee having to process them. Why? Nobody seems to read and/or care about the return policies. Please read them or at least ask about it when you originally purchase the item.

Here is the thing about returns, for most stores, if you provide us with anything less than the recipe, tags still attached, in some cases the card the purchase was made on, and the item that we can clearly determine has not been worn or used within the specified return period, we do not have to take it back.

That said, most customers are too pushy and workers are too nice to actually stick to this. I had a customer want to return a pair of white jeans, with stains in the crotch, no tags, no receipt and a missed return period. Like I have said, customer service is a priority for most places, so even though I would have been well within my authority to laugh her out of the store, I offered to make a no recite return. This would mean she would get refunded the amount that the item currently was selling for, and it would be on store credit. Better than nothing.

I explained what I could do, and she just looked up at me and said, “No.” It wasn’t really a yes or no question, but I explained that without the necessary receipt and tags there was nothing else I could do. She got very angry and my manager ended up taking over. She was lucky to be receiving any money back.

 The moral of the story: do not be like this customer. But also know with all the necessary materials most stores will be able to give you something back if you are outside of the return period. Most stores will be able to at least give you store credit, however, they are not obligated to do so in most cases. This is where being kind to the retail workers can get you a long way.

Finally, I want to make mention exchanges. You cannot grab a random item and call it an exchange. If you want to exchange something for a different size or style, it has to be at the same price point. Do not pick up a cashmere sweater and try and exchange it for a wool one. While this may seem obvious, I’ve had enough retail experience to have learned it is very much not.

So the main takeaway here is to know the store’s return policy, and if you are not sure where to find information about it, just ask or call the store. Most retail workers would be happy to spend a minute telling you their policy rather than spending ten minutes telling you why we cannot give you a full cash refund for the item you bought eight months ago that has clearly been worn and is missing the tags.

Ciao! My name is Elizabeth and I am a sophomore journalism major at St. Bonaventure. I love to write and I am so excited to have my work included on this fantastic platform for college women!