Creating a Refund Strategy that Actually Works

by Thursday Bram · 1 comment


With the holidays upon us, you’re likely planning trips to a list of various stores, not just to purchase gifts, but also to return well-intentioned gifts. There are quite a few reasons you might want to return a particular item to the store, but there are also plenty of reasons that you may never get around to it, letting something sit in the back of your closet collecting dust or, worse, throwing out something that you paid money for and never used.

The key is creating a returns strategy that actually lets you get things back to the store and replace them or get your money back, rather than hanging on to something you don’t want or need.

Plan to Return Things

It’s very easy to say that you’ll remember to take things along and return them, but very hard to actually follow through on those steps. If you have a standard method for planning your errands, such as making a list, you may already have a stop listed at a store you need to return something to. But don’t just include a shopping list for that stop, though — add a note that you need to return a particular item.

If you need to make a trip by a particular store that you may not go to very often, it’s worth making an appointment on your calendar to actually go by too. Memory can be a little faulty, unfortunately, so making a note just as you would a dentist appointment can be necessary.

Do a Little Research

The more you know about what to expect when you make it by the store, the more likely the job is to get done. Most stores now post their returns policy online, telling you if you need a receipt, the credit card that paid for the item or anything else to return something to that particular store. In some cases, you may also find that you can return a purchase by mail if you go through the site — depending on where your post office is, that might be a more convenient option.

It’s particularly important to look at the return policy, and in particular, how long you have to make a return. Getting a deadline in mind can help you push to get it done. After all, how often has returning something slipped your mind until it was either past the date by which you needed to make the exchange it or at least it seemed like a long time ago and you were no longer willing to bother? Sit down and do your research as soon as possible, so that you can make returning an item as easy as possible.

David’s Note: In fact, you should try to return it even if the deadline has passed. The store obviously has under no obligation to let you return an item but sometimes, they will at least give you store credit as long as you are returning the item in unused condition.

So, what is refund strategy? Do you actually bother, or is the line usually just too much of a hassle?

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Blue Spyder December 15, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Oh yes, the dreaded returns line, its kinda like a police lineup to me because I want to be in neither. Honestly, family already knows either give me cash (cant go wrong there) or something car related. Friends, on the other hand, give some of the most oddballish gifts ever from places I don’t even wanna walk into. Best you can do is regift it or eBay it.

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