Slightly OT: How Much Do Free Returns Cost Us?

Rambling thoughts...
We've all bought stuff at Home depot, Lowe's, Amazon, etc. that came with free returns. Tools, lighting fixtures, all sorts of stuff for our projects.
Many of these items are packaged in plastic that has been sealed with e.g. ultrasound, making it impossible to open "neatly". You have to destroy the packaging to open it, so the product can't go back on the shelf once returned. (Sometimes they tape it back together, but not usually.)
I needed some landscape-style spotlights to illuminate the Halloween stuff in my yard. I won't know what will work best until I try them after dark. I bought 3 different style of spotlights, know that I can return whatever doesn't work for me. Whatever I return will have been ripped open and that has to cost (all of us) something.
I guess the more stuff a person buys and returns, the better off they are. At least they are getting something for their money. I pity the po' fool that always knows exactly what they need and never returns anything. They are paying the cost for those that "buy to test".
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On 10/29/18 11:11 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

I doubt there any real costs to us. All the stores have to offer it to be competitive, AND they have to have low prices to be competitive.
I'll tell you what the real cost is if you're not careful! You accidentally buy a returned product, e.g. some ceiling fan or lighting fixture, and you're at a client's house installing it and realize that it's missing a bunch of proprietary hardware because the previous purchaser was an incompetent, lazy bastard who didn't put all the bits and pieces back in the box before returning it! And let's face it, the store clerks don't check or even know what to check for when returns come back.
So now, you realize that you have to return the previously returned product, but it's half installed already. So you have to either UNinstall what's already been installed, and/or drive back to the store to return it for a new one... or hopefully get a clerk that will let you buy a new, unopened, fan/lighting fixture, take out the bits and pieces that were missing from the first one, then return it for a refund with the parts missing from the first idiot who bought it.
So now, I've wasted at least an hour, probably two hours, dealing with this crap handed to me by some dip$h!t I've never met, and there goes the profit I was making on the job. I basically donated my time and lost money because of this imbecile and have to pay my own stupid tax in the process.
So yeah, it may cost "all of us" a tiny little bit and we don't even notice, and the corporation absorbs the little bit it costs them and they don't even notice. But I sure as heck notice when a 2hr job turns into a 4hr job and it's serious money taken right out of my pocket.
This is why I refuse to buy returned merchandise for client jobs (and most of my own). I've had store employees give me dirty looks and act frustrated when I'm pulling taped together packages or boxes off the racks/shelves until I find a "virgin" one to buy.
I tell them "If you can personally guarantee me that this is in perfect working condition with all the parts present and intact, then I'll buy it."
I'll never forget the time I bought a handsaw and didn't check it out, first. Whoever bought and returned is must've run that thing through some nails, because it would just skate across the surface of a 2x4. The teeth were almost rounded over. :-)
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-MIKE-

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On Monday, October 29, 2018 at 12:49:15 PM UTC-4, -MIKE- wrote:

I can attest to both bastard customers and store clerks that don't check items.
I bought a Ridgid wet-dry vac. Looked brand new on the shelf. Tape even looked original. I got it home to find about 2" of drywall debris in the tub. Used, returned dirty and put back on the shelf. Maybe it was broken, I didn't test it. If it was, I apologize to the customer that I just called a bastard. I don't apologize to the store clerk who should have checked it out.
When I went back to pick up another one, I asked for "something for my trouble". They gave me 15% off.
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On 10/29/18 12:28 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

A shop vac can be ruined by running sheetrock dust through its normal filters. There's a good chance the person knew this when they returned it.
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On Mon, 29 Oct 2018 10:28:06 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03

In their drfense, Home Depot has offered me the discount several times without me having to ask.
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On Monday, October 29, 2018 at 2:15:46 PM UTC-4, Clare Snyder wrote:

And they may have done that in this case, given the chance. However, I like to improve my chances by asking.
I ask for upgrades when I rent a car, I ask for upgrades when I buy a plane ticket, I ask for upgrades when I stay in a hotel. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I've never been "downgraded" when I've asked, so there is only upside potential. The worst they've ever said is "Sorry, no."
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On 10/29/2018 12:49 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

While there may be no obvious cost for the return, items that are returned would end up in the inventory shrinkage category. While not shrinkage, as in disappearance from the store, it is unsaleable inventory.
Inventory shrinkage is factored into the cost of doing business, and is factored into the sales price of all items. ie if a store experiences 5% shrinkage of their inventory, the sale price would be the cost of the material, the cost of labor, cost of shipping, the fixed cost of the facilities, plus 5% for shrinkage, plus all of the sales tax. For a large company like Lowes, the local store may not even be aware of how the returns affect the sales prices as the item price is calculated by the front office.
So if a store is experiencing a 5% shrinkage rate, you can assume that 5% of the sales price of an item is to cover shrinkage.
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On Mon, 29 Oct 2018 15:08:18 -0400, Keith Nuttle

Obviously it's not done on a per-store basis. The Borg's prices are uniform, at least for most of the US.
Shrinkage is a little different than returns, though. Interestingly, big-box stores have contracts with their suppliers that so draconian that they would make even Dracula blush. They're required to take back, and credit, whatever the BORG sends them. An acquaintance was in the electronics business and looked into supplying a big box store. According to the contract, if they sent him a train-load of broken lawn mowers, he'd have to accept them and give them a credit for them. He decided there were better places to sell his widgets.
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On 10/29/2018 10:16 PM, snipped-for-privacy@notreal.com wrote:

Whether it is the store the supplier, or his supplier, some body absorbs the cost, and tacks it on to all future orders. The contracts just bury the cost deeper.
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On Tue, 30 Oct 2018 09:27:45 -0400, Keith Nuttle

It's actually worse than that but the point is the same. Buying something with the intention of returning it after use, is theft.
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On 10/29/2018 12:49 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

Right, and if you go around noon you get a free lunch too.
You are also paying for shoplifting.
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Personally, I don't understand the reasoning behind the idea that a customer should try to shaft the retailer. Buying three things knowing you're going to bring two of them back (in a non-salable condition) doesn't seem particularly honest to me. It just raises the cost on everyone for the few people who abuse the store policies. Returning something because it is defective is one thing. Returning because it was a try-n-buy or because the wife didn't like it, is wrong. Almost as wrong as the jerks who buy a new TV before the superbowl and return it the next week.
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On 10/30/18 9:27 AM, Scott Lurndal wrote:

There will always be people who abuse the system, that doesn't mean you should take away the candy from all the kids because of the one brat. But many electronics stores suspend they're return policies on TVs around the Superbowl because that particular abuse of the system has gotten out of hand.
I'm glad these corporations don't see it the way you do. They offer these types of return policies to better serve their customers and I, for one, am grateful. Heck, even many tool manufacturers, themselves, are offering short term test drives of their products. "Use it for 30 days and if you're not completely satisfied for any reason, return it for a full refund."
These companies see the advantages in offering "try-n-buy" or returning it "because the wife didn't like it." I'm glad they allow test drives and returns because the "wife didn't like it," or in my specific case, the client didn't like it.
It's a common practice for me to purchase a few different versions of something I'm installing for a client and returning the ones they don't choose. It's also common practice for me to purchase several different versions of materials, hardware, or fasteners for an installation and return the ones I didn't use or need or even "prefer."
These corporations who offer these policies to better serve their customers certainly are helping me better serve mine and I appreciate it.
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wrote:

Hence the rise of the "restocking fee", something that really pisses me off.

There is a difference between "try and buy" and "free rental".

If they're in saleable condition after, no harm done.

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On 10/30/18 8:53 PM, snipped-for-privacy@notreal.com wrote:

All you have to do is do a quick search of my usenet posts to see that I am totally opposed to people who abuse the system and use free return policies and a free rental system.
I've seen tools at the clearance end-caps of Home Depot that were used and abused and obviously victims of the free rental abuse practice. That's BS and I'm on record as calling out that kind of crap.
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wrote:

I didn't call you a thief. Just stating my position.

No problem here.
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On 10/30/18 9:35 PM, snipped-for-privacy@notreal.com wrote:

No, I get it. I'm just responding to others who might take my words out of context or twist them to fit their agenda.
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On Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 9:53:37 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@notreal.com wrote:

Which brings us full circle back to my OP. When "they" package something that can't be returned in saleable condition, it has to cost *something* when it gets returned.
Here's my exact situation (this time). I needed 3 light fixtures for my yard. I had no idea which would work best. Is a white 900 lumen led spot going to work or will I need 1100 lumens? What about a red led spot light with a wider beam. (Spooky lawn figures)
So I bought 3 of each. I then tried 1 of each - opening them 1 at a time. As it turned out, 1 900 white and 2 red spots fit the bill. However, I also had to try one of the 1100 lumen spots (too bright). So now I'm going to return a unit that is (probably) not going back on the shelf since I had to use an angle grinder, jack hammer and a stick of dynamite to get the damn package open.
Back in the ole days, I would have carefully opened the cardboard box, remembered how it all went back in and returned the item in pristine condition. In so many cases, you can't do that anymore.
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On Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 10:27:58 AM UTC-4, Scott Lurndal wrote:

it to

Have you ever bought something and found that once you got it home it didn't fit your needs? What did you do?
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No, can't say that I have. I'm pretty careful what I buy.
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