Monday, June 09, 2008

How to sort the American economy out...


I did a bloody stupid thing the other day. I was at IKEA, I hopped out of my car for a second (keys in the ignition, engine running) and the doors popped shut.

Locked out of the car WHILE the engine was running. Nightmare.

Fortunately, nobody has my succession of clapped out old cars without Automobile Association membership (triple A here, American Automobile Association) so I sat tight and waited for them to arrive.

And while I was doing so, I suddenly realised what was wrong with the American economy.

Returns.

Everybody returns stuff.

The reason it caught my attention at IKEA was because we were parked in the loading bay, so I got to watch an hour's worth of couples drive up and try to pack their newly purchased stuff in their SUVs and sedans. When they suddenly realised that the bed frame, kitchen cabinets and TARDIS sized wardrobes wouldn't fit, they wheeled them right back in and RETURNED THEM!

Yes, less that eight minutes after dolling out their credit card details, these shoppers were wheeling their crap back in and demanding a refund - all because they couldn't fit them in the back of their cars (you'd think they'd have considered that before making the trip.)

It got me thinking about returns policy and I remembered my wife's shopping philosophy - buy now, ponder later. She returns at least half of the stuff the buys - and the shops take it!

Like yesterday, we returned two crappy canvas/metal framed wardrobes we'd been using until I got so sick of looking at them I suggested we actually buy REAL furniture instead of 'making do.' So despite having opened them and used them for two months, the store gave us a full refund when we returned them three months later (a big pile of poles and canvas in a cardboard box.)

It gets even worse at Home Depot, where they'll give you store credit for stuff you return even without a receipt. Tina found a bag of stuff she vaguely remembered buying at Home Depot the other day and we returned half of it. The other half didn't 'scan' - pretty much proving that none of it was bought from Home Depot in the first place - but they still gave us credit for the rest of it!

Other stores will even give you CASH back for products you return without a store receipt... And people do so - often.

The entire retail market in America seems to have a 'churn' of (if my wife's anything to go buy) 30%. For everything that's sold, a third of it gets returned (in various stages of disarray) and then sold 'On Clearance' or written off as a deduction.

I think it would be beneficial to the American economy if they did away with this returns policy bullshit and just said: 'If it ain't broke, you're keeping it.'

Likewise, consumers should learn to only buy things if they actually want them, instead of splashing out with plastic money and changing their minds on the drive home.

I, for one, am sick and bloody tired of being ordered to return stuff we only bought a few days earlier. It drives me bonkers!

1 comment:

Coffee Bean said...

Interesting... I'm one of few women that hates to shop. And... I rarely return stuff. In fact, I just found a bag of stuff I bought for my daughter's prom that I was going to return because we found some other stuff she liked better. That was two months ago. I'm just throwing it all in the gift closet.

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