I am a firm believer in returning products. If I get it home and find out that it doesn’t fit, work, or do what the advertising promised, I return it. However, I hate the time, effort, and gas it takes to make a return.
Most stores have very good return policies. However, it often costs more to return the item than its purchase price. For instance,
if I bought an under $10 item from a store 20 miles from me – which happens a lot in a big city like Los Angeles – then it will cost me almost that much in gas to return the item. Not to mention the time it takes to run the errand. Even items purchased online take time to return and sometimes you have to pay postage.
What’s a bargain hunter to do?
The key is to REALLY look at what you are trying to replace or buy BEFORE you go shopping. Check on size, shape, color, length and width. Comparison shop online and scan reviews. Take pictures and measurements. If you are bad with color (like I am) then bring a swatch you are trying to match, or the actual item.
Because we have a huge selection of just about everything that we can buy, we really need to narrow it down.
For instance, I just bought a home phone. I wanted a corded phone that didn’t plug into an electrical outlet and I was so excited when I found one. It was a great price. When I set it up, I realized it didn’t have an answering machine, a feature I absolutely wanted. In my excitement, I forgot to check if it had everything I needed.
I had to make a special trip to the store to return the phone and get another (more expensive) one.
Unfortunately, all of the information that you need when buying an item – especially electronics – is not on the outside of the box. Often the sales personnel is also pretty clueless, unless you insist on talking to a manager who knows the product. Some stores will search online for additional product info or you can do this on your smartphone.
Researching a product ahead of shopping will save you money. I know because at yard sales I have picked up brand new items from people who said they just never returned it. This is especially true if you buying an item that can’t be returned because it is a final sale or second-hand.
Are you a returner, a should-have-returner, or a can’t-returner?