In Discussions, Discussions, Money, Style

Do you have a fear of returning things?

A curious idea popped in my head the other day when my mother asked me to take something back to the store. It’s not that she herself was busy and couldn’t do it, she explained, it was more that I was.. “so good at returning stuff”.

I prodded a little, and realized that she had a mild fear of returning things, which kind of explains why she has a whole bunch of stuff in the house with tags still on it!!!

Travel-Photograph-NYC-New-York-USA-Anthropologie-Shopping-Window-2

I don’t know if returning items can really be a skill I can list on my resume 😉 , but it made me wonder how many of you out there have a mild fear of returns, even though you…

  • don’t want the item any longer
  • it doesn’t fit
  • you paid good money for it
  • are not satisfied
  • are within the returns / refunds / exchange window on the receipt

I hear this is a common thing with shopaholics; when they buy and don’t return what they don’t want, apparently it is because they feel as though the employees who are doing the returns will judge them.

OMG Why are they bothering to return this? It’s only $5.

..or worse, returning stuff makes shopaholics feel as though they’re poor because they need their money back, and that is the opposite of how they really want to feel in life.

Me, I’m a return-a-holic. I buy, then return because I get so enamoured in the store, but turn into a Picky Princess when I get the item into the house.

What are your thoughts on this?

 


Share Tweet Pin It +1

Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

You may also like

How to create a budget

Posted on February 28, 2013

Previous PostA Minimalist Suitcase: Roll up everything, don't pack it ever again
Next PostInvesting Series: How Capital Gains and Losses are treated in Canada

41 Comments

  1. Lil

    I have severe social anxiety, so, for me, it’s not just bout being judged by store workers, but by nearly everyone I come in contact with. I also have mild hoarding tendencies and am a huge perfectionist. I buy things in duplicates in case something happens to the first one and the item is discontinued or sold out, or I buy it in 3 sizes, in case I gain or lose weight or, in the case of my daughter, i worry she might outgrow something too soon. I have a fairly elaborate filing system of several boxes full of receipts with photocopies of every receipt, ordered by date and time. Years after I send my husband to return something, I still am not able to throw away the receipts. It takes up an enormous amount of time and energy and space in our house. I, too, avoid shopping any place without a very long, generous, ideally, unlimited return policy. I almost never wear or use the things I return. Oftentimes, they are still in sealed packages. I also only buy things on extreme discount most of the time, and I rarely leave my house, so it’s not about “wardrobing” or buying expensive things to try to impress other people; I have no interest whatsoever in high end fashion. Returning things is also not primarily about the money; our household income is sufficient to cover the things I buy quite easily. For me, I overbuy things out of fear that I may not be able to get what I need later on on sale (or even at all) when our family really needs something, and I fear returning things because I know my shopping fear is irrational and worry that people will think I’m crazy, but I still can’t stop buying and returning things.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Have you thought about seeing a therapist for this? They can help you work through the root of why you are so anxious and to help you with exercises on how to let go of this fear.

      Reply
  2. Andra

    I have a fear of returns only inflamed by super big online purchases during Christmas.

    A. Giant Hassle!
    B. Getting the thing repacked and getting to Post Office & standing online.
    C. Fearful of thought “how” to repack and return

    Thank goodness it’s only $7.50 worth of socks from Hanes this year!

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      My problem is more that I live in Canada and it costs $$$$ to return it.

      Reply
  3. Moto

    I only return items when I have to because sometimes it’s just a hassell.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I return things because I want the money back!

      Reply
  4. Chris @ CentsToMe

    Oh wow, I thought it was just me! I get my wife to return things. It is my non-confrontational personality. 🙁

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Probably more your personality 😉

      Reply
  5. Tania

    Nope, not at all. I wasn’t even aware it bothered some people. I regularly will try a few things at home and then pick one, return the rest. For example, a blazer/jacket will be tried on with various other pieces and then I’ll keep the one that works best. If I bought something and never wore it, I’ll grab it out of the closet and return it at some point. I’ve returned dresses to Macy’s months after the purchase. When I order online, I sometimes order multiple sizes and then return the what didn’t fit. The one thing I don’t like is when someone asks you year after year for special return info for gifts. I used to work at Prada and bought someone very close to me small accessories with my employee discount. Each year she’d talk about how she was going to return it (since it was an employee purchase, it’s not as easy to do). These were very basic items that anyone could utilize (i.e. pouches) but she wanted the credit so she could use it toward a bag or other larger item. Finally I stopped. If you never like what I pick for you, I’m going to stop making the effort and taking the time. So I rarely return gifts unless it’s clothes that don’t fit. I may not keep it forever but I don’t like when some people just view their entire gift haul as one big opportunity to return and go shopping.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Some people get anxiety attacks trying to return things. BF is one. He hates the hassle. I don’t mind it.. until we start returning stuff DAILY then I get annoyed.

      Reply
  6. Jennifer Roberts

    I have similar quirks, but I have no shame when it comes to returns! In fact, I feel almost relieved when I end up returning some impulse buy that I didn’t really truly need.

    What gets me is taking things to consignment shops. I feel all awkward when they reject some of my stuff, especially when they feel like they have to explain exactly why. Thank goodness it’s easy to do it online now. Oh, and just today I sent out a cancellation letter to my insurance company because I couldn’t handle breaking up with them over the phone.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I feel relieved too. I also love the rush of money back into my pocket.

      Oh my goodness, I hate taking things to consignment too. I think: It’s FINE! .. but they don’t.

      Reply
  7. Lila

    I worked at JCPenney during the Winter Holiday season one year, I was a seasonal worker…I never though ill of anyone for returning anything. I don’t think anyone should feel bad for returning items.

    Why should any customer feel bad for returning anything? I just returned a toilet seat that I bought on Amazon because apparently it was the wrong size. I had no second thoughts in returning it. Sometimes things are the wrong size, or they don’t work properly, or you use them and find out they are defective, etc.

    If a customer wanted to do a return, I would take whatever it was, and proceed on with the return. It was easy.

    A company wants to make a profit but how can that company make a profit if they don’t have a good return policy? If a customer returns an item, finds one that they like better, and goes home then both the store and the company wins. The customer gets whatever it was they were looking for and the company gets their profit.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Exactly. If they wanted you to never do returns, they should create good products that don’t need returning.

      We returned a Vitamix the other day, they FORGOT to put a screw on the bottom! I MEAN REALLY.. A SCREW.

      Reply
  8. Sara

    Clothing and accessories are easy returns for me – I’m tall and have to do most of my shopping online for that reason. When stores ask why I’m returning I always mention that it’s because I didn’t have a chance to try it on before buying (hint hint! put more sizes in your stores!).

    I’ve never returned any health/beauty item and I think that I would be hesitant to do so, unless it was clearly packaged as a gift or something.

    Reply
  9. Money Pincher

    I don’t have a fear of returning things in store. I actually like to buy the item and try it out at home with different outfits and if it doesn’t go well with my outfits, I will just return them! I love LOVE the return policies in Canada!

    Reply
  10. The Asian Pear

    I return stuff all the time – within reason of course. I’m not going to do it if I know my purchase is outside the return policy (ie timeframe, or missing a receipt, opened, etc). I might try at times though and see if they’d let me. The only times I don’t return is if I think genuinely it will be of some use later. Or if it’s not too expensive but the trip back is too far and not worth it in the end.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’ll return pretty much anything. I’ve also returned a lot of stuff where I lost the receipt and they’ve been good at taking it back.

      Reply
  11. Gia T.

    Yep I’m a return-a-holic too! In fact, a couple of years ago my husband challenged me to go a whole year without returning anything.

    I have absolutely no problem returning stuff and I’ve hardly come across anyone who gave me grief over it, but I do try to not do it as flippantly as a few years ago. Back then I’d be “oh I’ll buy it and think about it, no big deal,” but nowadays I’ll do the walk away and think about it for a few days strategy to help me decide.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I always check the return/refund policy before buying. If it’s generous, I’ll buy it and decide later. If it isn’t, then I’ll REALLY think twice.

      Reply
  12. Morgaine

    I used to be really bad at returning things but I also used to be really bad at not trying things on or buying things that didn’t fit 100% anyways because it was on sale or I really loved the colour. Once home, and tried on maybe I didn’t love it but there’s the time involved in getting back to the store to return it (the further away the store, the less likely I’d return it) and having to deal with customer service who ask you questions about your return or make you fill out a form or something. Its not very convenient, most of the time. Now, I make more of an effort to try things on and be very critical of my purchases before making them so I don’t have to return things 🙂

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I don’t return things I know I will love.. especially in my size, it’s on sale, etc. Other stuff? Not so much.

      Reply
  13. Kathy

    The only time I don’t like to return something is if I ordered it online and have to pay shipping charges to return it. And since I often am uncertain about a size, I’ll buy two to decide which is best and return the second one.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Agreed. Free shipping and returns in the U.S. is an incredible invention! Wish we had that here.

      Reply
  14. Debbie M

    I used to feel guilty about returning things because the store thought they made a little profit on me and now they have to start all over with those items. But I also understand that they can sell more when people know they can return things.

    My main problem now is remembering. Especially if I have to make a special trip (it’s easier to return something to a place I shop at regularly, but there aren’t many of those). I may end up waiting too long.

    I am now pretty good at saving my receipts (they all go in an envelope, and there’s a new envelope each month), so not being able to find the receipt is rarely a problem.

    I’m definitely afraid of returning things right after Christmas! But you can bring a good book or video game or something.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      The thing is that people DON’T return things, so they’re betting that only 50% return items, and the rest just keep it and toss it or forget about it.

      Reply
      1. Debbie M

        @save. spend. splurge.: So true.

        Reply
  15. Bridget

    I return everything if I don’t like it anymore haha

    Sometimes I buy things just so I can decide at home if I want to keep it, so I’m even purchasing with the intention to possibly return it in the future…

    Whenever a store tells me they have no return or a store credit/exchange return policy, I hesitate way more before buying — sometimes I don’t buy at all just for that reason.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I keep the tags on everything until I am sure.

      Reply
  16. lee

    I’ll admit, I am one of those who hate to return purchases. It includes a little bit of all the reasons you stated above but even more so, most of the stores I shop at are not return-friendly. The customer service is horrible and the lines could be monstrous during post work hours and weekends.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Yeah true. The waiting can be really tough because you think about all the things you could be doing instead.

      Reply
  17. Renee

    I used to be shy about it but now I’m not. We have laws that require retailers to give you your money back if it is under 30 days from purchase and the item is in new condition. Shop clerks will argue with you, try to give you store credit, and generally waste your time to try to discourage it, but if you stand your ground they have to give you your money back.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh nice! That’s really fantastic.

      Reply
  18. NZ Muse

    We don’t have returns policies here like you guys do. But I imagine I would balk a bit. Heck, I balk at speaking up about, say, an issue with my food order, so…

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Yes you Kiwis are very easygoing and non-confrontational 🙂

      Reply
  19. Naomi @ Rising Net Worth

    I will return something in an instant without even thinking twice about it, no shame here! Well, that’s even if it’s lucky enough to get out of the store with me in the first place. I’m one of those people who will triple-quadruple analyze a purchase, which will most always result with me walking out the store without it. And… don’t let it have a knick, tear rip or missing pieces! I don’t care if it was a $5 I want the money back on my card, NOW!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      HAH! You and me both. I’m not shy at all in returning items.

      Reply
  20. Michelle

    I have no problem with returning things, but I know many people who hate it. Wes is one of those people. I usually return things for him because he hates it.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      My partner hates returning things too. I do it for him 😛

      Reply
  21. Midori

    I am a return-a-holic as well. I usually want it, but when I have it, I don’t want it anymore. :X I have that bad habit, so I usually shop in stores with great return policies… 😛

    Reply

Leave a Reply