What Not to Do When Returning an Item


(Image credit: Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

Ever wanted to return an item that was purchased on a whim (usually for an upcoming event like New Year’s Eve), that you either changed your mind about or have no use for? With holiday sales around, it’s easy to get lured into buying something that you don’t really like. Perhaps you went home, tried it on, and realised it just wasn’t right or noticed the fit wasn’t as great as it seemed in the changing room. Maybe you were even so confident in your choice at first that you ripped off the price tags. You might also have been given a Christmas present that you’re not very keen on.

So what’s there to do other than hold on to the item and let it collect dust in your wardrobe? Well, depending on the shop’s policies, you might still be able to return it if you follow the advice below. Below, retail workers reveal tips on what behaviour you should avoid when returning an item.

Keep scrolling to learn the tips and tricks for returning an item properly.

#1: Don’t Overdo It With Your Reason for Return

Keep your reasoning short and sweet. One salesperson told us, “People who come in with an elaborate story locked and loaded always come off more suspicious and lead the salesperson to inspect the garment more closely.” 

#2: Read the Garment’s Care Instructions First

When it comes to clothes, care labels are your best friend. “While I was working at Lululemon, a woman came in determined to return a tennis skirt that had been ruined underneath the heat of an iron. She was adamant that it was our fault. Unfortunately, when you don’t read the care instructions, it’s your fault,” one retail assistant recalled. Simply put, if there was a warning that you disregarded, you won’t be getting your money back.

#3: Don’t Make It a Habit

A lot of stores have a return policy where there’s a price-based return limit within a 90-day period. For example, that means every time you return an item, its original amount is entered into the system so that if you exceed a certain amount of money, you’ll be refused any further returns. To avoid this and having salespeople recognise you as a frequent returner, try everything on before you buy it, and shop less on a whim and more with a specific intention.

#4: Don’t Cause a Scene

One assistant manager recalled a time when someone threw a complete tantrum over not being able to return everything she wanted. “The woman was screaming and yelling at all of the employees, including our managers, about how our policy was a scam. We did everything we could to try to please her, offering to return half of her items at their current selling price, but she got so out of control—sobbing and swearing at us for at least 15 minutes—that our manager just decided to have security escort her out.” Moral of the story: Throwing a fit will make it much harder for you to succeed.

#5: Keep the Tags on and Save the Receipt

All the salespeople we spoke to stressed that your best bet is to keep the tags on and save the receipt (with the receipt being most important, as it’s evidence of an actual purchase). If you do end up removing the tags and/or losing the receipt, then the clothes will have to be in perfect condition (no wear and tear, wrinkles or stretched-out areas) for anyone to consider the return.

#6: Don’t Cut the Hanger Ribbons

One assistant manager told us that the hanger ribbons inside shirts and dresses are the first thing she looks for, as people tend to cut them out before they wear an item. If they’re missing, they’ll assume you’ve worn the item and refuse the return.

#7: Don’t Try to Return Well-Worn Items

As mentioned above, make sure that the items you’re returning show no signs of wear. In addition to avoiding the obvious stains or tears, be aware of the fact that anywhere clothing bends on the body (knees, elbows, bum, etc.) will develop noticeable creases if worn. And as one retail worker pointed out, collars tend to reveal makeup marks that can ruin your case.

#8: Don’t Make a Habit of Returning Online Purchases In-Store

One store employee revealed that they hate when people make in-store returns for items they bought online because it ends up making the brick-and-mortar location suffer. She explained that some customers “often order the same item in two to three different sizes or colours and then end up returning them all. We’re obligated to take the return, but when we know that you weren’t helped by an assistant, didn’t take the time to come in and figure out your sizing, or you simply had buyer’s remorse, we get frustrated. Most returns happen earlier in the morning, so it can put us at a deficit for hours. Some days we’ll have more money in returns than in sales, which is not good.”

Next, see the best affordable party accessories.

This post originally appeared on Who What Wear U.S.

Jessica Schiffer
Contributing Editor
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