Free Merchant Account Requirement: A Solid Return Policy Part 2

"No Sale is Ever Final"

I've seen quite a few receipts come my way with that exact statement. For consumers around the world, seeing this statement is a testament to the good return policy of the merchant store - however, for merchants, this statement is not always to their benefit. Movies have depicted women buying clothes from stores and returning the garments the next day with the tag carefully intact even after wearing the garments. Too bad for merchants, good for abusive consumers.

This is precisely the reason not all return policies are created equal - and not all products are available for refund. There are also certain kinds of product exceptions. Included are the following:

  • Perishable items such as food, plants, flowers (cmon, would you return a flower a day after you bought it?)
  • Products marked as "as is", "clearance item sales are final", etc.
  • If the product has already been used or damaged after purchase.
  • Customized products received as described, and as ordered
  • Products returned in an altered state
  • Products which can no longer be resold due to health considerations (think syringes, or spoiled food)

For these products, all sales are final. If you have a product included in the list, then it's exempted from the return policy.

In line with this, if your return policy does not warrant a money/product return or exchange, then the law stipulates that your return policy be posted prominently throughout the store. This serves as a reminder to customers that your products cannot be returned nor exchanged. It's the same as posting a no return no exchange sign. Although it can certainly affect revenue, it will protect you from malicious-minded customers.

Post your refund policy at the following spots:

  • Signs at the cashier and check out counter for physical stores
  • Prominent text signs on your site prior to check out
  • At the Entrance of the store (or the landing page of your site)
  • Price Tags are a good place to put a short reminder of your return policy
  • Fitting rooms
  • Order forms

Since not all return policies are created equal (in fact the law allows certain liberties provided you post your refund policy as a reminder), there are various kinds of return policies. It's up to the merchant whether his or her return policy is fair to the customer and can help grow the business. Just a reminder that all return policies should be concise, clear, and state the time duration and related conditions.

No return, exchange only
Customers can have the product exchanged for another product in the store. The product should be in such a condition to be resold, and not damaged unless received as such.

Customers can return the item and have their money back (even credit card payments).

All sales are final
This normally appears for sale items and perishable items. All items are sold as is (as described, photographed, etc) without any chance of return or exchange.

Store Credit
Customer returns item, and instead of getting a certain product, it is charged as store credit in the name of the customer that can be spent in the store.

Free merchant Account providers require a good solid return policy posted on your site or presented on paper. If you don't have one, then by all means, get a legal eagle to write it down. It's not just about protecting yourself. A good return policy should be able to protect you against unnecessary expenses of return and exchanges, but also mirror the confidence you have in your products - which then reflects an increase in customer purchases(and eventually a decrease in returns & exchanges).

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