Now that the 2016 holiday shopping season is over (except for spending gift cards), a vital question to consider from both the customer’s and retailer’s perspective is: What kind of return policy best serves my needs? For many consumers, the answer may be: an unlimited time frame to return a purchase. For many retailers, the answer may be: holding down costs as much as possible. In either case, the return policy is a key element of customer service.
These are some return practices disliked by consumers: [Note: Many good retailers do not follow these practices.]
- An overly short time period to make a return for a full refund.
- The amount of the refund for a gift item when the gift recipient does not have a receipt.
- A discounted refund merely for opening the product’s box.
- The time to process a refund for a return.
- Items excluded from refunds, such as computer software.
- The shipping fee to return a purchase made online.
Two of the acknowledged leaders are Amazon, whose return policy is easy to use and consumer friendly, and L.L. Bean, whose return policy has received various honors and awards.
As a prelude to a YouTube video about returns at L.L. Bean, Business Insider’s Sam Rega recently stated: “Here’s what makes L.L.Bean’s ‘100% satisfaction guarantee’ the best return policy of any retailer.”