Know a Store's Return Policy Before You Buy

Knowledge leads to many happy returns

Whether it is Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, one thing is for sure, some items you buy will be returned.  

"On average, consumers return somewhere between 20% and 30% of all online orders," said San Diego State marketing professor Miro Copic.

Copic says the rate is lower during the holidays at traditional brick and mortar stores at closer to 10%. But when returns are part of the shopping season, it's important to know that all return policies are not created equal.

In California, a store can set whatever return policy it likes as long as that policy is posted where it can be seen by shoppers.  In many cases, a stores reputation is based on its return policy and that policy can influence shoppers.

"Consumers have a low tolerance level for the inability to return something," Copic said.

That why shoppers should always ask about the return policy before pulling out their credit card. They should know if a possible return includes a full refund, partial refund or store credit.

Copic said a gift recipt is critical when giving presents. A store can limit or even cancel a return without a receipt snd while some stores will give you weeks or monthsto make a return, for some the clock is ticking.

"You can return it and a get a rull refund within the first 10 days, 15 days, after 30 days," Copic added.  It all depends on the individual store policy.

And if you open a present and decide to take it back, make sure you keep all of the original packaging. An open box may cancel the return all together.

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