The large box stores have a “no questions asked” return policy because it works! More profits flow to the bottom line even in view of the abuse. It is simply part of their marketing strategy to generate sales, and the stores would probably loose market share if they changed their return policy.
The reasons the policy works are many and varied.
1. There is an off chance that the consumer who has every intention of taking a few pictures then returning the high priced camera might change his mind and keep it.
2. The customer’s conscious may get the better of him, and he may decide to keep it.
3. The customer might spot something else in the store and purchase it.
4. The big box stores understand that they are guaranteed to have not one, but two opportunities to sell the customer something--once when he picks the item up and again when he returns it.
5. The customer may show the camera to a friend, and his friend might buy one.
6. The customer may seek the advice of a sales clerk in the camera dept., which gives the sales clerk an opportunity to sell the customer something he really wants to keep.
7. The goodwill factor, the store’s top of the mind recall percentage, and other marketing statistics improve when a “no questions asked” return policy is adopted.
8. The list of reasons why the big box stores have a return policy of “no questions asked” are unending, and the marketing strategy is brilliant.
The big box stores have such enormous purchasing power they can and will return inventory items to their suppliers for whatever reason and simply deduct the cost of the return from their account payable. In addition, the suppliers know what’s going on, and they continue to do business with the big box stores.
The reality is, both the big retailer and the supplier try and build the cost of their return policy into their gross profit or operating costs. If the cost of returns is less than budgeted so much the better. If the cost of returns is larger than budgeted then there is a policy change. That may be the reason why the return date for electronics is often less than the return date for other good.
Smaller retail outlets don’t have the same clout with their suppliers, and often can’t afford to offer such a liberal return policy. If the smaller stores could afford such a policy many would adopt it.
The question is this. If a retailer adopts a “no questions asked” return policy knowing that a certain percentage of its customers will secretly purchase product with the intention of returning the product after using it, is it unethical for the store’s customers to take advantage of the policy? The answer is it is ethical for the customer to do so.
However, and this is what Joe is getting at, if a customer purchases a product under the terms and conditions of a “no questions asked” return policy, and:
- The customer is aware that the retailer expects the him to have a reasonable and initial intention of keeping the product;
- the customer’s intention when he purchased the product was to use it and return it;
then, I agree, the customer has acted in an unethical manner, for all of the reasons that Joe and a few others have mentioned.