Should you really get that new gadget or dress? You only have a few days to return it!
It's a frustrating experience to say the least. You buy a product and before you know it, it's too late to bring it back for a refund. The store makes their money, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. Makes sense, right?
Wrong. According to The University of Texas at Dallas, when retailers offer more restrictive terms for returning products, customers are actually more likely to return the product than when the return policy is more lenient.
If you have all the time in the world to return a product, then why would there be less returns? It turns out, that's exactly why. Customers feel less urgency to return a product when they know they have more time to return it, so they don't!
With a greater sense of security, customers have time to get comfortable and even grow accustomed to a purchase they might otherwise dread. Knowing that a product cannot be returned after only a few days compounds this effect and creates a strong feeling of "buyer's remorse."
In addition to a less restrictive time interval for returns, the ease of returning a product provides equal comfort to customers. Knowing that there will be a "no questions asked" policy is likely to lead to a favorable purchasing decision over a policy that only accepts returns if there is a manufacturer defect. For this reason, the burden of proof falls upon the end user and creates a barrier to full reimbursement. When returning to many stores, customers may be forced to accept store credit if they are unable to prove a defect or are only returning for trivial reasons (e.g. "did not like" or "did not fit").
Time limits on returns and no-questions asked policies aren't the only important return policy factors. Other factors that can create a strict return policy include requiring the original receipt and tags, offering exchanges instead of refunds, and limiting the kinds of items that can be returned (usually varies across categories).
Online retailers in particular are trying to maximize customer assurance at the point of sale to reduce the chance of a return. There will often be fitting guides, 360 degree views of a product, and even video reviews to show the customer every possible detail of the item so that they will not feel any need to return an item once it is ordered despite the lenient return policy.
Nordstrom, Sephora, and Costco are a few stores that come to mind as customer favorites. Each store has virtually no time limit for returns on any products (with some exceptions) and offer full refunds without the hassle. It's no wonder that these stores just happen to be some of the biggest names in their industry. Macy's, REI, and Zappos are notable for their return policies as well.
SEE ALSO: 15 Stores With the Best Return Policies