Buying with the intent to return

Have you ever bought anything you knew you’d return?

Today’s Food for Thought segment is an interesting and morality-challenging subject.

Have you ever purposely bought something you only needed to use temporarily – and knew that you’d return it after you were “done” with it?

abusing return policies buying tools with the intent to return after use - Buying with the intent to return

Talked to a friend the other day (from southern NY) who told me they were updating their deck in their backyard.

They’re not swimming in money, and he told me that he bought an air compressor and tools at a big-box hardware store knowing full well he was just going to use it and return it when he was done with his project.

“Those guys can handle it. Why else would they have such a liberal return policy?,” he said.

I didn’t challenge him, as I understood – he technically did nothing wrong. Once the project was done and he returned the stuff, he told me the girl who processed the return didn’t even open the boxes to confirm the tools where in the boxes!

Because whether he lies or tells the truth at the return counter – the store will most likely accept his return and refund his money. He “rented” the tool and accessories for nothing other than the gas needed to drive to and from.

Is that wrong or right?

Rentals are not that readily available…

While he just knowingly “rented” a product for free (and made it “used” and no longer sell-able at full-price as a result), it makes you wonder if one day in the future stores will eventually change their return policies.

Some hardware stores do indeed offer rentals of certain equipment, but only heavier tools and hardly much is available.

But I wonder what thought went into these almost no questions asked return policies most stores have. Had it been determined that taking the pain out of a purchase was downright necessary to keep customers coming back?

Do they accept the fact that a certain percentage of people will abuse it with full intent to return and they just consider it a part of doing business?

Does that affect the prices for people who intend on keeping the products?

Did they also think through the more strict return policy, assuming if the conditions were more stringent, that even less people would spend their money?

Should all stores consider some kind of “rental fee?” You know, rent this tool for 10% of it’s value per week” or something along those lines?

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