WICHITA, Kan. — The day after the Super Bowl could be a tough one for electronics retailers, because of the number of people who bought a big screen TV for the Super Bowl, then decided to return it the next day.
The National Retail Federation calls the trend “wardrobing”: returning used non-defective items for a refund. According to a recent study from the NRF, more than 30 percent of retailers reported experiencing this kind of “retail fraud” in 2018.
“I know girls that will buy dresses, wear them once and then take them back,” said Guin Robles to Wichita’s KWCH.
But Denise Groene with the Better Business Bureau says returning a big screen TV may not be as easy as smaller, less expensive items.
“There could be anywhere from a five to 20 percent restocking fee for an electronic. If you’re buying an electronic knowing there could be a chance you take it back to the store and request a full refund, you may not get the full refund depending on the restocking fee,” said Groene.
Groene says that fee is in place to make sure all parts are returned. You may not know that fee exists without asking a store manager directly.
Searching results on return policies for Target, Walmart and Best Buy do not mention restocking fees.
Best Buy has a 15 day return policy for “most items.” According to Walmart’s website, you have 90 days to make a return and “items must be returned in the original manufacturer’s packaging.”
At Target, “most unopened items in new condition and returned within 90 days will receive a refund or exchange.” The policy later states “items that are opened or damaged or do not have a receipt may be denied a refund or exchange.”
“Some stores are more transparent on their return policies and they’re more specific on what items you can get a full refund,” said Groene.
Groene says she’s unsure whether returning a used item would be considered fraud.
“It’s not against the law to buy an item and return it. If retail stores think that this is a big problem maybe they should focus on their policies as well,” said Groene.
However, Groene cautions buyers they may not get a full refund if they choose to return opened or used items. She also points out many retailers ask for a drivers license during a return or exchange and will be able to track anyone who regularly makes returns.