You know Willie,
I used to think of it the same way. Before I branched out and started my own independent contracting company in logistics, I was in Retail-Hell for 20 years, 15 of it being in the grocery industry, 5 being in the office supply industry. I was running a 35 employee 10 million dollar store when I was 23.
Of course, in the 15 years in the food business, I didn't have too many returns...
But those last 5 in the Office Supply industry opened my eyes. Sure, you will always have those that return stuff just for new stuff, but thats one of those "costs of doing business."
Whatever the companies policy was for returning items, I always expanded on it. I always kept up with the manufactures return allowance period and if the product was still in return status for me, I would let the customer bring it back as long as they swapped it for something else. 95% of the time, they ended up spending more.
My other policy was that any time someone came back with a small items, $20 or less, and had a receipt, it was no questions asked, you got your money back. Trust me, listening to your DM
because someone called and was refused a $2.95 return is never worth it.
Finally, known good customers always got returns. Always...
Also, if we screwed up, they got credit. Just before leaving the Retail business, one of my copy center employees screwed up a $2,300 order. I mean it was toast, pages wrong, cut off text, etc. What did I do?? As soon as I calmed the customer down who I could tell was very mad on the phone, I went out and told the copy employee to start over, and this time do it right, and then proceeded to void the sale. This was never asked for by the customer.
Two days later, the copy employee delivered the job to the customer with a refund receipt for $2,300. Yes, that job was free. Why? Because we screwed up.
I found it at the end that giving the customer what they want kept the business coming back.
So, what did all those returns that you say hurt business do? Well, I left last summer, and one year after leaving, sales in that store are almost off by 40%. Yes, I said 40%. And to tell you the truth, the store "physically" looks better than I ever could keep it, its cleaner, better stocked, and just plain looks good. However, the sales aren't there. The new managers policy on returns? To the letter of the law...
I'm rambling now, but I must share a story with you... right after leaving retail last summer, my 4.5 year old Troy Bilt tractor that I bought at Lowes was falling apart, and I've had a ton of problems with it. One month after getting it the deck fell off! It took over a month to get it fixed (no parts). Year after year, it was something. After the entire front end fell apart, I sent a nice, professional letter to the CEO of Troy Bilt and CC
'ed the CEO of Lowes. I was bascially asking for a $90 part that was broken for 4 years (in warranty that was refused to be fixed) be paid for. Three days later, the Manager of the local Lowes contacted me, and two days after that they refunded my entire purchase price for the Troy Bilt and I bought a new Huskvarna for $300. Do you know what I got from Troy Bilt? After a week and a half, I got a letter telling me that they were dealing with the problem and I should have a resolution quickly. Keep in mind, I already had my new mower at this point. A week after that, 2 and a half weeks later, I got, in the mail, a poor photo copy of my warranty from Troy Bilt and a letter explaining that it was out of warranty and basically tough luck. You can imagine the letter I sent him back.
Will I every buy a Troy Bilt (MTD) product again? Never on your life. Will I ever shop Home Depot?? Nope, unless Lowes doesn't carry what I need. So I guess the moral of the story is that Home Depot lost a customer and NEVER did anything wrong. Lowes has a customer for life.
Anyway, if you plan on staying in retail, and I don't wish that on anyone, remember, silly returns equals long term customers.