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Are You Good at Returning Things?

by J. Money on Tuesday, September 20, 2011

boy and suitcaseIf there’s one thing I usually hear over and over again from people, it’s that they need to get better about returning things.

They always say it’s on their list, and they’ll be getting to it soon, but something tells me it never actually gets done ;)  Which is kinda weird to me cuz it’s more MONEY in the bank!!  And if you’re not using whatever it was you bought, what’s the point anyways?

I’d like to think I’m pretty good at returning stuff I shouldn’t have gotten to begin with, because I make this mistake a LOT :) I don’t know if it’s cuz I have a system in place (more on that later), or I’m just super anal about who gets my money and when, but either way you can bet your bottom dollar that if I don’t want something anymore I’m gonna do all that’s in my power to get those bills back. And really, it’s not that hard anyone else to do it either!

Last week was a perfect example of this.  I had upgraded my suitcases cuz my old one was literally falling a part (the wheels have broken off, and everyone just stares at me when I stroll through the airport pretending everything’s normal, haha…), but shortly there after I started having killer buyer’s remorse.  Not cuz it cost me a cool $200 – that was fine cuz I was going for much nicer and higher quality stuff since I travel 2-3 times EVERY month, but cuz I wasn’t too sure I had picked out the best kind coming out of the store. (I had gone with London Fog which I had recognized, and thought the bags LOOKED pretty high class.)

They *seemed* like they’d do the trick, but after 1 leg of my last flight I could tell I most definitely made a wrong choice.  I don’t know if the bag was suppose to wheel like that, but either way it was super strange rolling it around, and the whole time I kept wondering if the whole thing was gonna split wide open cuz it felt so thin and flimsy (I had gotten one of those “super light” types, thinking it would cut down on the poundage (which it did, but in turn loss the sense of toughness)).

So the choice I had to make at that point was to either a) Put up with it, and hopefully get used to this new kind of baggage, or b)  Go back to TJ Maxx and try to return it.  Even though it was used, and you could def. see some minor wear and scrapes after just 1 trip out in the wild.  I had only used 1 of the 2 bags, so on the plus side I knew I could at least get $100 of it returned no problem whatsoever. (I had picked up a matching set – one being bigger than the other).

The wifey doubted my skills, and honestly I did too not knowing if you can return things already used?, but I figured it was worth a shot and I didn’t wanna be kicking myself later for not even going for it. So I went in on a day I was really feeling it, and mustered up as much charm and courage as I could and laid it all out on the table.  I didn’t lie – I told them that I used one of them, but that it didn’t seem to be the greatest of materials out there – and I still had all the tags and receipts and everything on me, and then it was left up to TJ Maxx’s return policy and the good graces of the manager that would inevitably be called over to make the call ;)  And that he did!  He came over, asked me what the deal was again from the beginning – which I happily re-told all over – and then he gave the cashier the secret head nod and my hard earned money was all mine again! Woohoo!  He even went a step further to recommend his own choice of favorite suitcases (Delsey), and walked me over to some he had in the store to show me why they were so great :)  Win-Win!

Now, I could have gotten lucky and caught the manager in a good mood, but either way I think it’s important to go into these things and just take the chance even if there’s a small % of you winning.  Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating the store or something, even though that doesn’t make much sense, but if you just think to yourself “Would I have bought this all over again had I known ____,” I think it helps put things in perspective much better.  There’s no shame in going back and getting your money back — some of us suck at making the right decisions the first time around :)

 Here are 4 tips on returning things that might help you out:

  1. Always GET a receipt.  I know it’s annoying, and perhaps it wastes a whole tree in your lifetime, but the first step to being able to return stuff is actually *getting* the receipt to begin with.
  2. Always KEEP your receipts! Find a shoebox and label it “2011″ or something with a big ol’ sharpie, and then every time you get a receipt just throw it in there.  You honestly don’t have to think about it all – just keep it near wherever you put your wallet or jeans (I always keep my receipts in my right jean’s pockets throughout the day, and then unload it all every night before brushing my teeth.  (yup, that’s right, I brush my teeth naked!))
  3. Always keep your TAGS.  Or anything else that comes along w/ the items you buy. Just throw them into that same box if they fit, or get another one if it makes you feel better.
  4. Keep a box, or bag, in your trunk for anything that ever needs returning.  This may sound pretty funny, but it honestly helps!  Every time you have something to return, just open up that boxes and find your receipts and tags (if they’re no longer on the item) and hurry up and throw them – along with the item you need returning – into your cars’ trunk!  As someone who has a horrible memory, I can tell you that this one step alone helps out immensely :)  There have been so many times I’ve been driving around shopping when it hits me that I had something to return at that store!  But if you already have it all sitting in your trunk, receipts and everything, you’ve just surprised yourself with a WIN! And the reward is money money moneyyyyy! (although quick side note: DON’T do this with super expensive stuff)

Okay, I think that’s enough typing for one day – my fingers are burning up from all the work, haha… So the two things to keep in mind today: 1) ALWAYS try and return things even if they’re used and/or it’s been a long time since you bought them (you can usually at least get store credit), and 2) Always hold onto receipts and throw your non-wants back into the car for whenever you’re out and about later.  It took me 7 days to return my bags and those guys just hung out in my back seat the entire time until I happened to be going in that area ;) Learn to make it easy on yourself!

Anyone else have some good tips on returning things? Or any great STORIES they couldn’t believe worked out? Like returning a kangaroo or something? ;)

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(Photo by livingonimpulse)


{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Skint in the City September 20, 2011 at 8:16 am

Oh J Money, can you see into my soul?
Was just guilting-out this morning over not having returned a pair of shoes by the cut-off date. That’s £50 sitting in that shoebox, just rotting away by the front door.
Inspired by your tip to keep stuff in the car – think that would make a difference to my return strike rate. Those shoes are going in the car right now and will be taking a trip to town tomorrow – cut-off date be damned!

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2 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com September 20, 2011 at 8:57 am

Read reviews on Amazon, make an informed decision before you ever buy anything, and you’ll never have to return something unless it’s truly defective. That’s how I roll; like a sturdy suitcase.

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3 LLF September 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

Another reason to buy products from companies with good return policy. My mother-in-law just returned a pair of Clarks shoes that she bought a few years ago to the facotry store because the thread was coming out. While she did not even expect to get anything, they gave her a $20 store credit.

Also, always ask about the return policy before you buy anything. Places like Forever 21 has a no return policy, and I don’t care for their store credit.

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4 Ryan September 20, 2011 at 9:37 am

One Word.

CostCo.

Best return policy ever. This don’t bat an eye no matter the length of time or reason. I just returned a couple sets of travel mugs that broke after 9 months of use, after the previous year’s models were still going strong. Only question they asked was if I wanted Cash or Store credit.

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5 Ashley @ Money Talks September 20, 2011 at 10:27 am

I was going to say Costco too. I heard of a lady returning a 10 year old vacuum. They also have top of the line suitcases. :)

I was going to write a post about returing stuff today. You always do that to me! Now it seems like I’m copying you. I’m not I swear!

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6 @impulsesave September 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Returning stuff is like free money! Not really, but it sure helps.

http://impulsesave.com

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7 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager September 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Shop at stores that have great return policies. REI is great, cost a little extra but you can return anything there. Definitely worth it!

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8 J. Money September 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

@Skint in the City – YES!!!! DO ITTTTTT!!!!!!! You can probably still get store credit! :)
@Kevin @ Thousandaire.com – Hah! Doesn’t work for me. Even with reviews I can never tell if I truly like something until I wear/use it. Maybe I’m just finicky?
@LLF – Woah, good for your mom! That is awesome. And never heard of a “no return policy!” That’s crazy!!! Esp for a store like that where clothes start falling a part after 3 wears (according to the wife, at least).
@Ryan – Haha, awesome. There’s not a Costcto close to us, but even so we’d probably never use it. Last time I had a Costco card at my old place, I went in once the entire year. And just cuz I felt bad for spending the money on membership ;)
@Ashley @ Money Talks – Hah! That’s cuz we’re dope like that ;) Write it on up! People always need to hear things over and over again for it to sink in :) (not that our audience is the same, anyways)
@@impulsesave – That’s what I say all the time! It IS like FREE money because if you don’t return something you get $0.00 :)
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – True dat. Too bad their stuff is hella expensive ;)

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9 Get Out of Debt Girl September 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I’m so glad you posted this. I have been putting off and putting off sending back something I bought for my husband’s birthday. It wasn’t exactly what he wanted so he asked if I minded returning it. So as soon as I finish with this post, I’m putting it in a box and sending it back. I would have forgotten all about it until the next bill came in.

Thanks again!

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10 ShoeGal September 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I am all about taking things back….not doing so is a complete wast of cash! I have on occasion missed the date though and always end up kicking myself. If it is something that can be taken back I normally staple the tag to the receipt and hang on to it until the return time has passed. Makes the whole process less painful.

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11 Jackie September 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm

A great return policy is what made me a loyal LLBean shopper. They’ve taken back EVERYTHING. I found a pair of gloves my husband had gotten for Christmas in 2006 while packing away our winter clothes in April of 2011. They were too small, and he forgot about them. Ten minutes on the phone with LLBean and the gloves were returend, 5 years later, for a cash-back refund. The tags were still on, but it wouldn’t have mattered if they weren’t because LLBean is awesome like that.

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12 Jen @ Master the Art of Saving September 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I’m pretty good about returning stuff—sure I might wait until the last possible day but it gets done. Have you checked out ful for your luggage? Some of their stuff is really sturdy. :-)

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13 Michelle September 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I would say I’m good at returning things, but the BF not so much.

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14 Christine September 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Best buy doesn’t take anything without a receipt anymore!!! They don’t even allow you to have store credit. No receipt and they don’t help you out at all. Even though I still had the price tag on the game too.

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15 Kathy September 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Easy Spirit shoes won’t take back returns after 30 days even with a receipt!
I found two pair of shoes that were about 90 days old (forgot I had them), never worn because they didn’t fit well (mail order) & when I called, they told me over & over on the phone, 30 day return policy…PERIOD.
That just means that I won’t be shopping with them again….too bad….I love shoes.

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16 kody @ financial money tips September 20, 2011 at 9:35 pm

J$ I could have used this advice a couple months ago. I bought a jacket and 2 1/2 weeks later the zipper would not zip up anymore. I don’t know why i never exchanged it out for another. I think the biggest problem is those damn receipts! so thanks for the shoe box idea. An easy idea like that can turn into a lifetime of savings because i always LOOSE my receipts ;)

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17 Elle @ Odd Cents September 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Would you believe me if I told you that I keep every single receipt for every single purchase? I do, and I staple or stick each and every one into a diary organised by the date of the purchase. My bf used to laugh at me, but when I pulled a receipt from last year’s diary, he became a believer. Another thing too… many people underestimate the power of “lifetime warranty”. My bf’s sister returned an item that she bought fifteen (yes, 15) years ago because something went wrong with it and she got a replacement. They were not too pleased about it, but she reminded them that the product was marketed with a “lifetime warranty” and they were stumped.

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18 Sense September 21, 2011 at 2:54 am

this is why I LOVE america. this! In a nutshell.

such amazing customer service. I’m a big fan of the return. I returned 7 things just today.

It is a rarity to be able to return anything in NZ. The onus is on the customer to buy only what they know that they will keep. Trying to return things there is the worst! And doesn’t really work. I usually ask what the return policy is when buying something even a little iffy, say, a lamp in a color that I’m not sure matches my color scheme, and they look at me like I have three heads (not two heads, mind you, THREE. It’s worse than the two-headed look.) and DENY me. Sometimes exchange is OK, but only for the same item (what?) and if that item is damaged. They then tell me that I should ONLY buy what I am sure that I want. They just don’t understand…because people often forget to return items, like this post discusses, businesses could make so much MORE money by allowing returns! And it makes the customers feel all warm and fuzzy by giving them the freedom to change their minds.

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19 Sense September 21, 2011 at 2:57 am

Addendum: I am currently in America, which is why I could return 7 things today. And why it only took 30 minutes to do so, at 4 stores!

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20 Carrie Starr September 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

I am an expert returner of things. I always save the receipt, keep tags on and save the original packaging just in case I need to return it. Once I returned a phone a whole year after buying it. You just never know! Last week I bought a new pair of boots. I’m pretty cheap so I can’t decide if the 35 bucks I paid for them is worth it. I wore them yesterday with the tag tucked into the book to take them for a test run. I’ve decided I like them and took off the tag. I”m still saving the box and the receipt- just in case!

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21 Michelle In Htown September 21, 2011 at 9:24 am

I don’t carry a traditional wallet, instead I use a small zip bag (like a makeup bag) and have a credit card case I put inside for my debit card and license. This way, I can stuff every receipt I get in the case and zip that puppy up. Once a week or so, I grab all the receipts and stash them in a desk drawer. Why? If I discover something I bought needs to be returned, I guaran-dang-tee you I have the receipt in that drawer. Not having the receipt is the No. 1 reason people don’t return things. Me? I never lose one. Well, almost never.

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22 J. Money September 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Some pretty good tips from y’all! Keep on sharing them! :)

@Get Out of Debt Girl – YES! Awesome! Work it, girl! :)
@ShoeGal – Oh yeah, that’s a good idea too.
@Jackie – Wowwww, seriously? That’s pretty incredible. I bet they have some good stories on the craziest returns people send in too ;) I bet yours is on the list! Haha…
@Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – Ful? Nah, never heard of. Will google it though as I still haven’t found any replacements that fit my fancy (I’m pretty picky in that I have to really LIKE looking at it or it won’t excite me enough to use, haha… and of course, it has to work well too ;))
@Michelle – Maybe you can lure him into doing it more by promising him a “treat” afterward? ;)
@Christine – Oh man, that blows. Do you think cuz it was a game though and that’s why? Or just in general no receipt = no money back? I bet they get scammed alllllll the time. It usually takes other assholes to ruin it for everyone else, so I’m sure that keeps happening and they have to keep adjusting. Sometimes if you wait until right after Xmas though, they’re more lenient ;) At least other stores are.
@Kathy – Well that sucks, sorry to hear that :( I didn’t even know Easy Spirit still existed? Through probably cuz they don’t make men’s shoes, right?
@kody @ financial money tips – YES! Exactly. Believe me, I wasn’t this good or prepared either until doing that myself ;) Been going on 9 years strong now and so far so helpful!
@Elle @ Odd Cents – Amen! People always forget or push aside those lifetime warranties but that’s what they’re there for! And the companies can’t get in a huff cuz they know damn well it a) helped their items fly off the shelf more, and b) that 9 times out of 10 no one will ever use it. Can’t hate on that. (and I do believe that you keep all receipts cuz that’s smart!!! :) I do too, but only credit card/debit ones… cash I throw away unless it’s something other than food – which is usually where all my cash goes, and you can never return what you just ate anyways, haha… (well, you could, but that’s kinda gross))
@Sense – That’s so interesting!! I never even wondered about outher countries and their views on returning, man – freakin’ love blogging! haha… good addition to the discussion my friend ;) And welcome back to the US! You gonna hit MD/DC/VA by chance? You better holler if you do :)
@Carrie Starr – Haha, thata girl. I’m just as picky too ;) Esp with clothes. Sometimes it takes a while to decide if it was a worthy expense or not.
@Michelle In Htown – That works too! I think as long as you have *some* sort of system going on, you’re 99% of the time guaranteed to be safe. Thanks for sharing what works for you :)

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23 Elle @ Odd Cents September 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm

lol. I actually started saving my receipts in an effort to see how I was spending my money and the practice stuck. I live in Barbados and I must say that I’m not too au fait with the return policies because I find that it’s too expensive to shop here ( too many imports plus high import duties plus greedy retailers). But friends have told me that stores do not take back items unless you have a receipt and sometimes they can be difficult even if you do. And then others would prefer to give you store credit rather than give you back cash.

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24 J. Money September 22, 2011 at 1:23 am

What? Really? That is awesome! I had no idea you were in Barbados :) So cool how we all mix it up here on the internet where EVERYONE calls it home. Gotta love technology :)

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25 Elle @ Odd Cents September 22, 2011 at 6:18 am

Yes. I’m in sunny and hot Barbados. That’s true. The internet is an excellent resource. It sucks that people use it to do bad stuff :(

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26 Natalie @ Mango September 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm

The tip about keeping stuff in your car is a great one. I do this if I need to return something, if I have mail to send, or with anything else that I need to remember to bring somewhere else (but do stay away from keeping perishable items in the car… especially over the summer. Yuck.) Also, writing notes to yourself in large, alarming capital letters generally does the trick if you’re forgetful or a procrastinator. Waking up to “RETURN SWEATER TODAY!!!!” will probably get the message across. If you, like me, went through the trouble of getting a receipt, only to accidentally throw it away as soon as you got home, try returning the item anyway. Some stores (thinking Pier 1 for example) will let you at least exchange the item or get store credit without a receipt, if it hasn’t been used. Many happy returns, all!

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27 J. Money September 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm

@Elle @ Odd Cents – Amen to that! But man – so COOL most places around the world have access to it! Maybe one day there will be fines/issues w/ those who do more bad than good?
@Natalie @ Mango – haha… I write a lot of stuff on my hands too :) Cuz no way I can forget to leave my hands at home! haha… it saves me every other day on something.

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