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News: No Returns for YOU!

January 12, 2005 by
shefinds | Style

Here’s a trend we hate.

Frequent returners beware. The Return Exchange Inc., a company you’ve likely never heard of, is out to get you. Well, sort of. Based out of Irvine California, Return Exchange quietly collects information on your shopping habits; specifically on how often you return items. Go beyond what the system deems an acceptable number of returns and you’ll find that you’ve been blacklisted – you’ll be unable to return items for an indeterminate amount of time.

While we find their goal to be admirable – catching shoplifters, and reducing the number of people who “wardrobe”, i.e. buy, wear, and then return items – the method leaves much to be desired. First, there are no standardized criteria for judging just how many returns count as too many. Return Exchange just keeps tracks of how many returns you make; the individual retailer regulates how many returns a customer can make before they terminate the ability to return items. What one store feels is an acceptable number of returns, another may find excessive.

Furthermore, Return Exchange only tracks returns not purchases. One shopper became ineligible to return items at Express stores because she had returned almost four hundred dollars worth of merchandise in a two month period. It sounds excessive, until you realize that she’d spent over 2000 dollars in the same store, and that most of her so-called “returns” were actually exchanges.

In addition, it’s not as though stores are advertising this practice. You have to check the small print of their return policies, and read between the lines to understand that your ability to return can be taken away from you. Not to mention, once you’ve been blacklisted, no information is provided as to when you’ll be able to return items again.

Well what can we do about it? Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a non-profit Consumer Information and Advocacy Organization recommends doing the following. Contact return exchange, 800-652-2331 and see if they have a file on you. If they do write down what companies are on your record, and let Privacy Rights Clearinghouse know through their Online Inquiry Form. If you go to known national retailers that use Return Exchange check and see if they mention the Point of Sale that a state-issued ID is required to make a return or exchange, and let Privacy Rights know. And if you’ve been denied the ability to make a return or exchange based on the information the company has about you, Privacy Rights would really like to hear from you.

Beyond that you can contact those retailers and tell them you’re not happy with this policy (namely, Express, KayBee Toys, The Sports Authority, Staples, and Guess stores).

Additionally, if you’re one of those unlucky ones who have been denied the ability to make a return there’s an easy way to circumvent the system – have a friend make the return for you.

Read more on this horrible policy: Buyer Beware: Return Policies Get Stricter

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