Shopper Outrage: Refund Loopholes

Full of (loop)holes

In a perfect world, every retailer would have the same restrictions to their refund system, but the truth is, today’s return policies are all over the map. “The days of blanket policies are over,” Christine Frietchen, editor-in-chief of, the consumer advocacy website, tells MainStreet. This is because retailers in our current economic climate find themselves faced with two conflicting objectives: They need to protect the hit their profit margins experience through fraud (an estimated $3.68 billion), but also want to build customer loyalty. Consumers are left to negotiate a mixed bag of fine print that can carry a multitude of restrictions and exclusions. This hodgepodge often makes it hard to differentiate a good policy from a bad one. Frietchen points out that Target, for instance, has a long 90-day window of opportunity on returns, but will charge a 15% restocking fee on certain items. Wal-Mart, conversely, never charges a restocking penalty, but it only gives customers 15 days to return its electronic products for a full refund. Photo Credit: Kiki1128