Is This A Strange Return Policy Or Is It Me?

Dell / Inspiron one 2320
April 22, 2019 at 09:30:15
Specs: Windows 7, 3.3 GHz / 4001 MB
The sign in the Electronics section of a certain (B) wholesale (J) club reads as follows:

Our Electronics Return Policy:
90-Day return policy on all consumer electronics
14-Day return policy on all damaged TVs, laptops and tablets

Since this confused me, I stopped by the service desk for an explanation. What I was told is that defective TV's, laptops and tablets must be returned within 14 days. However, if the consumer doesn't like the device, they have 90 days to return it.

I thanked the nice lady and walked away. There was no need for me to tell her that if my new TV breaks within the first 90 days, I'm sure as h*ll not going to like it it any more and will return it under the 90 day policy.

Am I missing something?

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April 22, 2019 at 11:45:19
I suspect you will be told that it is not working and so you can't return it "just because you don't like it". That probably supposes that the item is - apart from 90-days wear - in the same condition as when you bought it.

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April 22, 2019 at 12:51:57

What are the odds that the nice lady behind the service desk is going unpack a 50" TV (or any item for that matter) and test it? Can you imagine them trying to test every TV, laptop or tablet that customers return? How would they even know what to look for as part of the test?

I'll wager that my card will be credited with no questions asked.

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April 22, 2019 at 15:51:31

I can just see the scene... "You" arrive with your box and they take one look, and decide there and then to fully check the contents... That'll be the day you're the x to nth returnee who gets lucky and gets the full works...

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April 23, 2019 at 02:03:53
Yeah. Why would the store waste a couple of minutes checking the returned equipment when they could just hand over hundreds of dollars for an unopened box?

No doubt they'll just sell it on to another customer without checking that - if there's anything but a few bricks in the box - the equipment still works. Great way to build a good reputation.

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April 23, 2019 at 08:50:11
Seriously? Unopened box? Are you suggesting that I'm going to seal the box back up and expect a full refund without some sort of inspection? Why would I seal the box back up if I am allowed to return it if I don't like it? Of course the box will be open when I bring it in.

I said: "What are the odds that the nice lady behind the service desk is going unpack a 50" TV and test it?"

I fully expect her to look in the box and check for bricks but I seriously doubt that she is going to remove the packing material, extract the TV, plug it in, and actually test it. Just for fun, let's make it a 80 lb, 75" TV. I guess she'll need to call a friend or two. ;-) Don't worry about all those other customers, they can wait while the store assembles a crew to unpack, set-up and test the huge TV.

Let's forget the TV for a second and use a laptop as an example. What tests do you expect the nice lady at the service desk to perform on a laptop? A defective laptop could boot up but have network connectivity issues or heat problems or any of a number of intermittent issues (as could a TV or tablet).

Do you really think that the nice lady at the service desk has been trained to identify a defective electronic device, other than one that doesn't even power on? I'm talking about a wholesale club, not a computer store.

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April 23, 2019 at 09:25:39
The possibilities here are almost endless... and many comparable to the "I don't English (or whatever language appropriate) speak very well" and wishing to discuss and book a ticket to wherever; and there is long queue forming behind me as I do so... Classic rush hour ticket booking scenario at the least...

From limited experience with Costco they simply take back whatever is returned - unchecked as best I can tell; as long as it's returned within the specified period and all (well most...) packaging included. Likely your wholesale club would do the same in most situations?

The big name stores are often a bit more picky I think..?

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April 23, 2019 at 10:03:09
trvlr: That's basically my point, which is why the posted return policy is somewhat bizarre. 89 days after the sale, they are going to take the TV back with no more than a cursory "Yep, there's a TV in the box" glance.

However, as strange as it reads, I can see a possible reason for it.

My assumption (dangerous) is that the 14-day limit on defective devices is to steer customers into using the warranty process if the device fails after that 14-day period is over.

On one hand, they aren't going to force their customers in using the warranty process for a DOA item - that's a bad look - thus the 14-day "grace period". On the other hand they don't want customers returning defective items after 2.5 months and then walking over to the electronics department and buying the same item again. If they can avoid that even a few times, then printing up the sign was worth it. I'm sure that DOA returns and "I don't like it" returns have totally different accounting processes.

IOW, they will take the device back no matter what, but if they can avoid user initiated "swaps" 3 months after the sale, that's better for them.

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April 23, 2019 at 10:25:21
You seem to be assuming that you will just get a refund there and then from the nice lady behind the desk. Possible (or possibly she'll get one of the back-room boys to check it over first), but what is going to happen when they later test the TV - they're not going to sell it on without doing that - and find that you've passed a dud off on them?

Just say "my bad" and write it off to experience. I doubt it.

Of course, in the EU we don't have this problem. If a TV stopped working so soon the law ensures that we would get a refund so the store's policy would be irrelevant.

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April 23, 2019 at 11:47:58
Yes, I expect that I would get a refund right there and then. That's how it tends to work.

As far as the later testing of the TV and then chasing the consumer down to get a refund on their refund, that sure as heck isn't going to happen. They just don't do that. Consider the expense of setting up that system!

Besides, it's their word against the consumer's unless the consumer signs off on something that says that if the TV is deemed to be defective afterwards, they have to return the money. Again that just doesn't happen. What protection does the consumer have against the back room boys damaging the device and then claiming it was returned like that? That's a media mess no business would want to deal with.

In many cases, returned electronic equipment is re-sold, in bulk, to resellers who do the testing and refurbishing before selling it as...wait for it...a refurbished unit. Once the consumer has his refund, no one is chasing him down.

From a article:

"Journey of returned items

To offset those costs, retailers work with resellers to handle return and excess items. B-Stock, for instance, is a business-to-business marketplace for return and excess merchandise.

The nine-year-old company, which was founded by eBay alum Howard Rosenberg, works with nine of the top 10 U.S. retailers. The company told CNBC that it is on track to sell 70 million returns or excess items this year — up 20 percent compared to last year.

Headquartered in Washington D.C., Optoro is another firm that offers a range of services to retailers to help them recoup the losses on returns. “Our technology uses machine learning and data algorithms to determine the highest value channel for each returned item, including return to stock, return to vendor, list on a secondary marketplace, refurbish, or donate,” Carly Llewellyn, senior director of marketing at Optoro, told CNBC.

Optoro also operates, a secondary marketplace, through which the company sells returned items directly to consumers; and, a similar channel for business-to-business transactions. At one point, several used Apple computers were listed on at about 86 percent below their original price."

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