Consumer Alert: Policies that punish shoppers

Consumer Alert: Policies that punish shoppers
New policies for shoppers who return items
New policies for shoppers who return items

19 Action News has a warning about the way you shop. New store policies could punish you for returns.

Finding delivery boxes waiting at her door is Magda Walczak's favorite part of online shopping.

And if what's inside a package doesn't fit, she often just fills out the return label, packs it up, and sends it back.

"I would say that about half the things that I actually buy I end up returning," said Magda Walczak.

Sometimes Magda returns her online orders at the actual store, and lately she's heard this at the check out counter:

"Several times the person at the cash register would tell me, 'you know you don't have to buy online, you can just come to the store and you can try everything on.'"

We found those reminders are just one new tactic some retailers are using to cut down on returns which they say, costs them as much as $375 billion each year.

"For retailers, returns are an absolute nightmare. The days of using your living room as a fitting room are yes, going to be coming to a close," stated Retail Expert Carol Spieckerman.

If you're guilty of over-ordering online, AgilOne may know.

The company keeps tabs on 525 million consumers, and says they flag one percent as return-a-holics, which mean they send back, a lot more than they keep.

"We look at returns in relation to the profitability of a customer, so for example if you return 50 items that can be really terrible if you only keep one. But of course if you return 50 items and end up buying 200 that's fantastic," Dominique Levin of AgilOne said.

Companies use this data to curb chronic returning.

Now, some won't send you coupons if you're a frequent returner and others will only email you promotions for certain products.

For example, sends frequent returners coupons for jewelry, watches and beauty products, which get sent back less.

Some businesses are even revoking certain customers free shipping. Experts say companies may start charging them restocking fees in the future.

"Most stores really would rather have you continue to do business with them rather than their competitors. However, what we do see is stores starting to find ways to perhaps spend less money on you or find ways to have you return less," added Dominique Levin of AgilOne.

If you've been labeled a return-a-holic you can improve your status with a store by starting to keep more items that you order.

"Most of the customer profiles that retailers are collecting on all of us get refreshed every single day, so every day is a new day when it comes to return profiles," said Dominique Levin.

Magda says her bottom line: if an item she orders doesn't fit or she doesn't like it, she needs to do what's right for her.

"I'll be mindful of taking advantage of the offers that I receive, but I don't think it's going to make me shop any less or return any less," stated Magda Walczak.

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