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Did You Know? Retailers May Be Tracking Your Merchandise Returns

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Best Buy store front with receipt

Retailers are watching you.

Did you know that return fraud and abuse costs U.S. retailers over $17 billion every year? Because of this, many retailers, including CVS, Best Buy, The Home Depot, and others, have started discreetly tracking customer returns, with hopes of halting shoppers who are suspected of abusing their return policies.

To keep tabs on customer returns, these retailers have turned to a third-party company, The Retail Equation (TRE), that analyzes the store’s sales data and keeps a database of customer returns, flagging potentially abusive shoppers. Customers who are flagged may be prevented from making future returns at that particular retailer.

While TRE’s system may be helpful at preventing return fraud and abuse, many shoppers are not aware of this tracking system.

In fact, if you’ve ever been required to show a driver’s license when making a return, it may be because they are partnered with The Retail Equation and use their tracking software. TRE uses this personal information (typically, this includes your identification number, name, address, date of birth, and expiration date) to track and monitor your return habits. Then stores this data in their state-of-the-art data center, which is located somewhere in the U.S.

Best Buy receipt – ID required

If you make a lot of returns OR have ever been denied a return at your favorite retailer, you may be interested in reading this email I received from a Hip2Save reader…

“I frequently purchase items and will not touch them for a period of time, just in case I find a better deal. I purchased an Instax camera via a sale posted on Hip2Save for $39.99 on February 8th.

 

On February 22nd, I went to Best Buy to return another (unrelated) purchase – smart light bulbs that I was not aware needed a Philips “bridge” in order to be used (I did not have this and did not want to buy it).

 

On February 25th, I went to return the Instax Camera because I decided instead to buy the Instax Smartphone printer. The printer is more expensive but more convenient as you do not have to carry the bulky camera around all day. My Best Buy receipt and purchase history indicates that I needed to return the camera by February 26th, so I made a trip to the store today after work to process the camera return. Towards the end of my transaction, I was advised that my return was DENIED.

 

Apparently, several retailers are working with a company called “The Retail Equation.” This company tracks your returns and has the ability to “block” you from returning for a year when they determine that you have returned too much. This is an assumption that Best Buy made, no one was able to actually confirm for me the formula that determines when you are blocked. In order to get a number to call “The Retail Equation”, I was forced to “Accept” and sign a screen at Best Buy that said my return is denied. Upon contacting Retail Equation, I was advised that there is no override that they can do, that they will send me a record of my returns.

 

Here is my problem. The return history will not be incorrect. I return a lot. However, I also purchase a lot and all of my returns are well within the company’s WRITTEN return policy on my receipt. All of my purchases are made on my Best Buy card which I have had for several years, so they can all be tracked as valid purchases/returns.

 

If I had made a more expensive purchase (TV, iPad, etc) and then attempted to return as I was advised I can and had been denied, this could have been a devastating waste of money. I would suggest that customers who have experienced this keep their receipts in case a class action lawsuit results.”


Shopping bags

So what exactly is The Retail Equation?

The Retail Equation (TRE) has been in business since 1999 to help retailers deliver a better customer shopping experience, while preventing retail fraud/abuse and protecting the bottom line. The company has a variety of technology solutions used by top-tier retailers across North America.

The most common is its Return Authorization, which uses statistical modeling and analytics to detect fraudulent and abusive behavior when returns are processed at retailers’ return counters. TRE’s software also helps retailers reward good customers with incentives at the point of sale or return.


best buy insignia speaker

What retailers use TRE Return Authorization?

Unfortunately, The Retail Equation does not disclose client names due to contractual agreements. Retailers using the TRE service may post signs to inform consumers of their use of the technology, and it may be mentioned on the back of the receipt that the technology is used and that an ID is required for returns.

However, rumor has it that more than 27,000 stores use The Retail Equation’s services, including big retailers like Best Buy, CVS, JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret, Home Depot, and Nike – just to name a few.


nike receipt with return information

Why would I be denied a return?

According to TRE, the system is designed to identify fraudulent or abusive behaviors that are not typical of 99% of consumers. The one percent of consumers who get warned or denied exhibit return behaviors that mimic fraud or abuse or exhibit habits that are inconsistent with the retailer’s return policy.

Please note, however, the refusal of a return does not mean the return is necessarily fraudulent or abusive; it only means that the consumer’s return history is similar to patterns often associated with such behavior.

Refused returns generally fall into two categories:

  • Returns that break that retailer’s basic return policy (such as a return without a receipt, a return after the allowed return period, a return on a non-returnable item, or multiple returns beyond the quantity of returns allowed by the retailer within a given period).
  • Returns that may indicate return fraud or abuse (for example, returning items after removing pieces of that item).

Collin carrying shopping bags

How can I get a copy of my Return Activity Report?

Consumers can contact TRE by sending an e-mail to: ReturnActivityReport@TheRetailEquation.com or a letter to:

The Retail Equation
P.O. Box 51373
Irvine, CA 92619-1373

Requests should include the consumer’s name and a phone number where he/she can be contacted. When TRE calls, the company will ask for the consumer’s driver’s license number and state, to enable a database search. TRE representatives prefer to call consumers to avoid sending personal information via e-mail or mail.


Sooo, not only do we have a CLV score that represents how “valuable” we are as a customer to a business, but now we also have a “return profile” that includes information about our merchandise returns to select retailers.

Do you think this enhanced tracking will prevent return fraud?


The end of retail? See which 15 stores have filed for Bankruptcy.

Join The Discussion

Comments 153

  1. Samantha

    Thank you! I wonder if Target uses this? “I have guests that say this is my first return” or “I have only returned one small thing before”. When they get flagged as unable to return/even exchange only or some variation. It used to be a yearly limit at target so if what they say is true it’s probably because of something like this causing the issue.

    • Laura

      They only allow a certain number of returns in a given period (3 in 90 days I think?). This is a pain for gifts for kids’ parties if the kids don’t want the gift and no gift receipt is given. I always dreaded that and would stack them up to do together so I wouldn’t go “over.” Or I would send my husband who never buys or returns! Not sure if this is due to this Retail company or not, but it is a policy they have had.

    • Ashley

      Target has done it for over 10 years. Luckily, for baby/wedding registries they will let you use that vs your DL, even if it wasn’t registered for.
      VS adopted this in the past 5+ years as well.

    • Emily

      I had to even return at Target last time. I had no idea why. I have a Target red card so it’s usually no problem to return without having to keep up with my receipt but I bought $300 worth of gift cards when they were on sale on Black Friday so this item I hadn’t kept the receipt and I had paid with a gift card. I returned a few toys before we moved because I had bought them for my daughter’s birthday but couldn’t fit them in suitcases so figured I’d return them and rebuy the in NC. They we’re all on my card and pulled up and returned with no issues so I assumed that was the same as returning with a receipt. I love that target and other stores can look it up with your credit card and it drives me crazy that Walmart won’t do it. Anyway, I guess I was flagged because they made me even exchange. Im not out there committing return fraud but I do think maybe they are flagging people who shouldn’t be. I knew they tracked returns with no receipt at places like Walmart but tracking returns with receipts seems crazy because you are obeying their policy.

    • Katie

      I shop Target and target.com and return CONSTANTLY. Hundreds of returns a year (thousands of dollars spent for items I kept) and ZERO problems. You just need to keep your receipt! Anyone limited in returns were doing it without a receipt- those policies have been in place for many years.

    • Melissa

      Yup Target does use something that will deny you a return if your ID has too many on it. I practically live there and of course most everything I have is from there and it doesn’t matter if the return of their fault ( I.e faulty item, expired items, broken etc.) so buyer beware

  2. Ani

    While I do understand that some people abuse return policies, it is unfair to the vast majority of honest people who don’t. I hope Costco never does this!

  3. kema

    I wish someone would deny me a return. I would dispute it with my credit card company and put them on my ban list. Boy bye.

    • Tracy

      Hahaha! Right!

  4. Sarah

    I would just use cash. If you think it something you are unsure about just use cash. If you on borderline of return list

    • Heather Bothell-Vrbsky

      I think most places require ID for returns, so using cash wouldn’t make any difference.

    • Christine

      Most retailers still ask for ID for any return, regardless of payment method. Therefore, it is still tracked.

    • Anna

      I returned a 7 dollar item from kohls that I got for Christmas that didn’t fit me and scanned my drivers license! what scammers.

    • Mel

      It doesn’t matter the payment method, most places now require ID for return with or w/out receipt. They scan it your DL (or ID), which can trigger the 3rd party company. But it shouldn’t be that way. CVS has a beauty guarantee, so if I don’t like lipstick or foundation, I shouldn’t be flagged for CVS’s own return policy.

  5. Emilee

    I’m wondering if Sephora uses this as well since they request your ID for returns? Interesting article, thanks H2S for the information. You always keep your readers informed 😁

    • ~jenn~

      I’ve never had Sephora ask for my government issued ID. They’ve asked for my BI information because they track your purchases and points.
      They probably do if you don’t have a receipt and/or can’t verify it on your BI account because I’m sure they’re dealing with people trying to return items they get from various subscription boxes or items that consumers have bought elsewhere.
      It’s terrible that people do this, but they do.

    • 50ShadesofLipstick

      Sephora only asks for ID when you return something without a receipt that cannot be verified otherwise (such as using your Beauty Insider account information, if you are a member of that program). I don’t blame them for it, either…their return policy is very generous (full refund w/in 60 days if you have a receipt) and many people abuse it!

  6. Diana

    I bet Target does this. They ask for your ID when you do a return w/o receipt.

    • Nels

      They do. I had tons of things gifted to me for baby shower and it took 3 trips to target to return/exchange. On the 3rd time they tried denying me – but I explained what was happening and showed them my registry – they let me return.

  7. Diana

    Also I think HEB and Walmart has this too. I’ve been blocked from returning w/o receipt for about 3 months.

    • llc

      For walmart, you can only do 3 returns without a receipt per year. I had to do one and they told me, u only have 2 left.

  8. Andrea

    They should definitely give you a final warning and then have you sign acknowledging that you can’t make another return for a certain time period. It’s terrible of them to just blind side you with not being able to return! 😡

    • Mel

      Yess!!!! I Agree!!

  9. None

    This isn’t new info. They’ve been doing this for years.

    • Sarah

      Yes exactly!!!

    • s

      Yes. Maybe not through this company, but retailers have been tracking returns & some have been limiting returns for years. I was in line behind a woman at either Marshalls or Ross YEARS ago when a return was denied. I overheard them tell her that she had “too many returns”. I just assumed that’s why they require a driver’s license.

  10. Melissa Rice

    I have seen people abuse return policies especially clothing and makeup so I am happy that they are tracking people down.

  11. AmyA

    Last year I made a return at Toys r Us. Even though I had my receipt and I was within the return window, I had to give them my ID to process the return. I was told that it was a way for them to track who is guilty of fraud. She said some customers will buy huge quantities of popular items and try to resell them online at a higher price. Whatever they can’t sell, then they return to the store.

    • Emily

      Well I don’t think buying something and trying to sell it online and returning things later sounds like fraud. Maybe greed but if they bought it there, returning it there isn’t fraud. I think they are trying to catch people who steal stuff then return it for a credit and buy other stuff with it or sell the credit for money. I’m sure there are other types of fraud but that’s what comes to mind.

      • Jodi P

        It may not be fraud, but it is abuse, and it costs the retailer money. Retailers are not in business to act as wholesalers to people who sell their stuff on eBay. The retailer had the expense of getting those items to their shelves, and if an eBayer buys them from the shelf, only to return the items later, those items were not available during that time for the retailer’s customers to buy. The returned items may be put back on the retailer’s shelf, but the life span of that item is limited and may be put on clearance, or returned to the distributor at a loss of 5-10% for the retailer.

  12. mrsj6901

    Walmart and Target do this…I use to lose receipts a lot and kept getting “banned” for returns without receipts after my limit was reached and had to wait till the next year. Now I keep ALL my receipts..just in case. Disney store does this as well. I get it …but I am a compulsive shopper who tends to change her mind about a product shortly after returning home lol

  13. Dinh

    I wonder if the tracking includes returning without ID presented

    • Cbeths

      The stores that ask for ID will not take a return without an ID.

    • jlg

      If you mean when you return something with a valid receipt & they don’t ask for your ID, then no

  14. S

    Might be a good idea to have a husband or wife return if someone is concerned they have returned too many items. Is this tally per year or through a compilation of years? Personally I don’t return much and think some people return too much. However it is a bit disconcerting if you follow the rules, have receipt, then get denied. Doesn’t seem right.

  15. Holly

    As a former retail manager of several companies that used this process, if you keep your receipt and return with good intentions this likely will not be an issue for you. There are people who walk into a store, grab items off the shelf and return them for store credit. They also steal from a store and drive to the nearest location to attempt to return items. Businesses lose a lot of money from thieves and are simply trying to protect themselves from a loss.

    • S

      It seems like cameras would crack down a bit on stealing. I imagine in the 70s and 80s it would have been rampant. . This seems to Target even those with receipts. That’s the part I have a slight problem with.

      • Ashley

        Some stores do not have access to their camera feed, it’s viewed at a higher level or the cameras are fake. Also some companies do not let you confront shoppers, you can ask them if they want to put their items at the counter but you can’t tell them you saw them put something in their purse.

      • Holly

        Cameras wouldn’t help if it were a different store that the person keeps returning at… this is a fast and effective way to give an alert company wide

  16. valarina

    B&BW does this all the time. They definitely keep track. Costco keeps track on the card.

    • riss

      I exchanged unused candles early this year and they asked for my driver’s license. Never returned anything there before. I thought it was because I didn’t have the receipt.

  17. Stacey

    Interesting article, but that French manicure with the silver fine line is great!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the sweet comment, Stacey! I’ll be sure to pass that along!

  18. Ivan

    Any company that refuses to accept a legitimate return from me will make me a former customer. One reason I have always liked WalMart…Sam Walton believed the customer was always right, even when they weren’t.

  19. M

    I think some people abuse the system but this can potentially hurt those with legitimate returns. As stated in the article. One way to avoid making a return can be to sell the item online. With some items it certainly wouldn’t be worth it with fees etc.

  20. Krisp

    I don’t see why a person with a receipt that is within the return window can be denied a return? You have the receipt to show it’s not stolen.

    • Lel

      Regardless of how much you purchase there is a ratio of purchases to return that some people go overboard with. Ultimately it can be a loss for companies.

      • ella

        Bottom line here is that many stores are closing and these companies want us to shop online. When I get an item, it often doesn’t fit, the color is different, etc. Companies are trying to advertise easy returns so people aren’t afraid to shop online, and then they pull this stuff. I buy a lot at Target, and I also return a fair amount with a receipt. Shopping for clothes, shoes, and linens for my family online gives me more options and lets me do it when I have the time. Then, things that don’t work for me can be returned. If turning with a receipt, we should be allowed to return. I would never shop at a store again if they blindsided me and didn’t allow a return with a receipt.

  21. Waldo

    What happens if you’re over the limit at a particular store and an item that you bought is defective? What is the recourse then?

    • Heather Bothell-Vrbsky

      You could contact the manufacturer of the item directly.

    • jlg

      Most will allow exchange for same exact item in that case

  22. M

    Should Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and shower gifts all come with receipts for possible return? Lol Even with receipts it sounds like you’re doomed at some point…return limits. Those should be posted in each store. Everyone would be much more careful with returns.

  23. Christine

    This just happened to me at Home Depot. I didn’t have a receipt for some screws and bolts left over from a project and was denied. I called RA and was told that if I would have had the receipt they would have processed the return. What’s upsetting is that they have always taken returns without a receipt and given store credit. I like the idea of disputing with the credit card company when you have the receipt and are within their policy and they don’t take an item back. Retailers don’t follow their own policies on coupons, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing about other things next. There are a lot of stores using this company now.

    • Krisp

      Did you pay with a credit card or debit? K have been told in the past by Home Depot and Lowe’s they can look up the purchase by inserting your card into the machine and haven’t had a problem with that. Now you have me worried because my husband is really bad with receipts.

      • jlg

        Home Depot and Lowe’s both have memberships you can join for free & track purchases by giving your phone# at time of purchase or you can add your receipt online if you forget to give your# when checking out

  24. Jaime

    This happened to me at Target. I always use my red card but I have 4 kids and when they have birthday parties, they get a lot of duplicate items. I usually let them return them for a gift card so they can buy what they want. My dad bought my son a $60 LEGO set that he already had so I returned it (but I didn’t tell my dad or ask for the receipt). Then my daughter had a birthday party and had to return two $25 gifts. They didn’t let me. They said the limit was $100 for theyear and the system was only allowing them to return one. Really? I returned TWO items that year yet spent thousands with them on my Red Card. Luckily, the one item I had actually bought for her that previous Christmas. So they were able to look it up on my Red Card and return it. It was embarrassing though. I felt like they were accusing me of something.

    • S

      If they are going to limit they should at least post the return limit in clear view in the store. So we can all be prepared for these situations.

      • Jaime

        Agreed!

    • Garfield

      I assume you did a no-receipt return instead of a return with a gift receipt. There have been limits for years for this kind of return. It used to be $70 until recently. This is the reason they ask for your ID – so they can track the no-receipt returns. All stores do it to avoid scams. Walmart, last time I checked, had limit of 2 transactions per year with no receipt. This kind of tracking is entirely different than when they use a third party company and there are no written rules anywhere. For this policy the rules are in their terms somewhere.

  25. Paul

    What are these incentives that they allow retailers to offer at the point of sale or return?

  26. Michael D Sacco

    This happened to my girlfriend at Sephora. They denied her return. She would never commit fraud, but she does have to return stuff at times. Still, I would easily say for every 300 dollars she spends there she returns maybe 50 of it (unused mind you)

    She simply called her credit card company and did a chargeback. They honored it. She got her money back and got to keep the merchandise. If retailers want to play this game and wrongfully assume fraud based on 3rd party flawed statistics, they will lose more in the end. Simply always pay with a reliable, non store issued, credit card.

  27. Marisa

    I just emailed them and got the following response.

    Thank you for contacting The Retail Equation. Please call us at 1-800-652-2331 to obtain a copy of your Return Activity Report.

    Regards,

    The Retail Equation

    • jlg

      Yes that’s the next step in their process if you want to obtain your report. It is quite interesting to see your report btw. Paints a crazy picture of just how much info they’re tracking at how many stores etc

  28. R

    Maybe these companies should focus on protecting the customer from Hackers and those stealing our information. Technology has made it easier for hackers to get our information. Its their responsibility to protect the consumer. Apparently they are finding it easier to track and penalize the consumer than the criminals getting into their systems. Yes some people abuse the system. No doubt.

    • Emily

      Yes! I had someone file taxes with my information that was stolen from Target. It was a huge mess and I’m still on the lookout for fraud or credit cards opened under my name.

  29. K

    I get that stores are cracking down on things that may be losing them money like fraudulent returns, coupon fraud etc..times are tough for brick and mortar stores. I think things like return limit amounts should be posted so we know, legitimate things do happen

  30. Kathy B

    Kohls brags on the return policy but my disabled Mom that loses everything gave me a pair of Nike shoes that ran small. I took them back in Nov right after my BD. I didn’t have receipt she lost it. They said due to the amount would get a check in mail. I still don’t have that $90 just the receipt they gave me then. I have called and did all the automated stuff several times. It says you need to talk with someone for more information . BUT WE REACHED OUR CALL LIMIT FOR TODAY. This happens no matter the time of day. 😡

    • R

      Call limits? Limiting everything now. Maybe you could back to the store with the receipt they gave you and see if they could verify a check has been sent?

      • jlg

        Nope I’m certain they’ll tell you to call their imaginary dept about your imaginary check…it’s out of the stores hands at that point

    • Cbeths

      I have never heard of this. Try the chat feature. Call the store and talk to a manager.

    • Emily

      I would go back to the store too and ask. That’s crazy. I don’t understand when they ask to mail you a check. Last time I was there, I returned 2 suitcases. If they returned them in the same transaction, they said they would have to mail me a refund. I didn’t want that because I wanted to get two bigger suitcases so she just returned them one at a time and it worked fine. Makes no sense but now I worry that making 2 returns in one day put me on their list! I don’t live near a Kohl’s so I order tons of stuff online (way too much). I do have to return things because there’s no way to tell if it will fit or look terrible before you get it. If they are counting that against me on their record then I feel like I should stop ordering from them and only shop where I can try stuff on. Of course there’s still stuff that has to be taken back if it doesn’t fit the kids. No way I’m taking them every time I go shopping or making them try stuff on in store. They are 3 and 1 and that would be a nightmare. Seems unreasonable to track that because both of those are legitimate and within their policy. Don’t know what this list does beyond stopping you from returning stuff or who sees it but I don’t like to think of my reputation being tarnished for doing things legitimately.

      • Kim

        I return at Kohl’s a lot. I think if you use their credit card you are all right. I hope it stays that way

      • jlg

        Yes Emily me too. Go back for a 3rd return & you’ll have no other options besides their imaginary check in the mail.

    • jlg

      Omg this happened to me at Kohl’s AND bed bath and beyond. They literally stole my item I was returning, promising a check in the mail, & then sent NOTHING. I keep meaning to follow up, but now that I read your comment, I think I’d be wasting my time.

  31. penny Fowler

    I know my Wal-Mart in Tenn would not take a Return because it was past three Months! I even had the receipt where I had Bought It ! And The young Girl turned around an pointed to the sign which said we No Longer to Exchanges after three Months!

    • WM employee

      Walmart has a 90 day return policy and has for years. It’s on the back of your receipt.

  32. Amy

    I’m just curious why someone would need to return so much to an electronics store. If I were Best Buy I’d want to protect my company from having broken misused electronics returned. Watch a dvd then return it? Why would people need to return stuff to best buy? It’s not clothes, shoes or possible food past best by date that the store forgot to take off the shelf. I won’t be having any issues with a change in return policy.

    • DKR

      No store allows opened dvds to be returned or at least that I’m aware of.

    • Ok

      Wondering the same thing too. Why would you keep buying and holding on for a better deal and then go back and forth returning? This is exactly what I would think of when I think of abuse of the system. And then she’s actually angry about being denied?? The sense of entitlement of some customers is outrageous to me.

  33. Jackie

    Those who have been negatively impacted should contact their respective State Attorney General. Illinois, California, and New York are noted for having strong consumer rights advocates in particular and starting class action lawsuits that benefit consumers but they have to know there is a problem first. I rarely return items but I’ve had two instances this year where retailers sent me items that weren’t even close to the items I ordered. Not my fault but who knows if I’m on the list.

  34. Kcmiami

    I had this happen to me at Walmart’s couple years back! Soo annoying!

  35. Judy Trac

    I return all the time and can’t believe they would track me for it. Dirty dogs

  36. ArmyBrat09165

    Thank goodness I probably only make returns once every two years or so. LOL

  37. ArmyBrat09165

    I accidently bought two of the same items this Christmas. I just put it in the gift closet and my daughter gave it to a friend for her birthday. LOL I was lucky on that one.

  38. sara

    My feeling is, if a return is within their policy, then a store should honor it. If a store wants to cap the amount of returns or make specifications that returned items must be unused etc., then that should be clearly stated in their policies. Otherwise, it’s deceitful and misleading for customers who become unsure they will get a refund for a return that’s within policy.

    • sara

      The solution is more transparency

  39. adam

    On top of being denied at one retailer, you will probably/potentially be blocked at other retailers. Blocked at Best Buy may mean no returns at Home Depot.

    While i understand the idea behind it, the retailers do a poor job of informing the customer about the system. Some Home Depot employees are almost trained to offer in-store credit if you don’t have a receipt, which can negatively impact future experiences. That no-receipt return may prevent you from returning something more important later on. On top of all this, the return data will be skewed against you if you use cash for purchases. So any “loyalty” program TRE says they have, requires you to use plastic to buy.

    The local HomeDepot explained this can be a pain in the arse for even their own contractors. They often buy more parts than are needed for a job, and over time can end up with extra parts even after returning most on time. So they end up with a few no-receipt returns, then all of a sudden can’t return something else that could be super inexpensive. And these are contractors that are doing work for Home Depot, and HD obviously knows this.

    Partly stupid system, because a no-receipt return store credit is tied to your drivers licenses, so very limited use. Also, make sure you don’t have to do a return on something you used a store-credit or gift card for, as it will require your drivers license, further negating your return history.

    • jlg

      Yes adam thats true happened to me at JC Penney because of returns at home depot. I had literally never returned anything at jcp & was denied

  40. Another Shelly

    Okay, Hip2Save, where can we shop without being tracked? How to enjoy greater privacy while shopping?

    • jlg

      I’d say eBay but most likely they have their own tracking system in place. You’d be shocked how many stores are using TRE or their own version of it

  41. Ginger Juntti

    I am a small seller on eBay, and returns are so frustrating. I had a customer return a jacket they said was defective. I get it back, and there’s a huge slash in it. They obviously cut it while opening the package, and then made me pay for it. I lost out on shipping both ways plus the cost of the item. Other customers send back items with no tags, bad odors, or copious amounts of pet hair. I cannot resell these items as “new”. I always report customers who abuse returns to eBay, and I hope they do something about it! So I totally understand any company that tries to catch abusers. Sure, they may make mistakes from time to time, but it should be their right since they are covering the costs!

    • Lk

      Same here. I sold a used iPhone on eBay and the buyer claimed it had a dent although the photos I took prior to selling showed no dent. The buyer wanted me to reduce the price which I ended up doing rather having to pay for postage, etc each way. No more eBay selling for me – too much trouble and buyers looking to rip you off.

    • llc

      I sell on ebay too. I actually stopped accepting returns. However a buyer can still request one. I approved it and received a used, scratched item without packaging or tags. Ebays policy is it must be in condition it was received. The buyer said the reason for return was they didnt like them. I turned them in to ebay and they told me they returned what they received. So why didnt u make a claim of not receiving the item purchased or that it was used (i only sell new). I now have to call ebay and deal with the “open return”. I keep a file on these people and block them from purchasing from me in the future.

      • Kim

        eBay seems to side with the buyer. I stopped selling clothes on there because someone returned something even though I put no returns. She opened a case against me without even telling me because jeans were too small for her. eBay takes her side of course, and I lose 8$ on shipping and fees

  42. momof4under7

    Target does this and I’ve been banned from even shopping at Target.com at this time! They wont give me answers except that with my return history from online orders I am only welcome to shop in store. I hate it because with 4 little ones it’s a hassle. All my returns were legit. Be careful. I’ve called and asked for my ban to be reviewed and they wont do it.

  43. Tasha

    The story in the email is mine. I have since received my return report and it showed 9 returns from 2016 to 2019. All with a receipt and all purchased on my Best Buy credit card. One return was an unopened iPad mini that I returned because I bought the more expensive iPad. Another return was for additional laptop memory that I was advised to buy and then their Geek squad was unable to install.

    I have had the “ban” removed and since it is now past the regular return policy that started this whole mess, they will make an exception to return the camera but I’m hesitant to do that since it will most likely start my new return report off with a non-receipt return.

    In my opinion it shouldn’t matter why or how often someone return as long as it is within their written policy. If you want to limit returns due to losses I think that’s fine, but add rules to your return policy so that I know when I make the purchase -return policies determine who I shop with so this practice is deceptive.

    Thank you Collin for posting!!

    • Jen

      Thank you for the update!

      I constantly buy clothes online from Macy’s since petite sizes aren’t carried in store; I have a store nearby for easy returns. Looks like I’m going to get flagged soon thanks to vanity sizing!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thank you for sharing with us Tasha! 🙂

    • jlg

      Best buy is hell to get to honor their written policy even if the retail equation doesn’t deny you. I argued with a manager for an hour once, literally! Over a $20 phone charger or some crap.

  44. Ilana

    Nordstrom Rack cancelled my account. They said I returned too many things I bought online. I explained that I bought online because the sizes were limited in the store and when I came into the store to return, I generally bought something in store. I also asked what about all the things I bought online that I kept. But, they didn’t care, they still cancelled it. So much for Nordstrom’s above and beyond customer service philosophy.

    • Kelly

      Agree about the issue of limited size availability in stores on either side of the spectrum…petite sizes and plus sizes.
      I have a pair of CK dress pants size 2P that are 10 years old that I need to replace. I recently order a size 2P CK dress pants that ended up running too big on me…they don’t even carry a size 0P. It’s getting very frustrating shopping for dress pants. In the far future, I’m considering finding a tailor to get dress pants custom made.

    • Emily

      This and the story above seem crazy to me. They have to know that when you shop online, you don’t know if an item will fit or look like it did online. There’s not many of us who would buy online if we were told we couldn’t return it if it doesn’t fit. They aren’t going to be up front about saying this is their return policy because they don’t want people to be afraid to buy so they make it seem like they have no hassle returns. I don’t live near anything but Walmart but prefer to shop at Kohl’s and Target and a few other places online so I have to return stuff that doesn’t work out. Not scamming anyone. John St trying to be loyal to the stores I like but sounds like I will actually be punished for that with whatever this report does.

    • riss

      I, too, ordered stuff online from Nordstrom Rack and Macy’s. And returned some in the past, mostly at Nordstrom Rack. I wonder if next time I returned something it’d be denied. I just ordered clothes yesterday, and I know I will end up returning at least one because of the fit, or it just does not look good on me. But it always look good on the model! Lol

  45. Becky

    Sadly, this falls into the category of “This is why we can’t have nice things”. Too many people take advantage. When I was a cashier, certain cough and cold medicines required that I scan their ID. Why do I have to show ID to buy my kids cough medicine? Because bad guys can make meth out of it. Because of them, you are limited to 4 purchases of it a day.

  46. Elizabeth

    I know Walmart and Target take returns with receipt without an ID, But they ask for ID if you don’t have receipt. Which completely makes sense…. But people are saying they need did whether you have the receipt or not??

  47. Judy

    Boy they sure don’t discriminate against us when they want our money. Target has always been the worst for me. I Purchased my daughter a shirt and after a washing it the hem unraveled on the bottom of the shirt. I brought it to the customer service desk with my receipt and sent my daughter to go get a new one for us to do an even exchange. The gal working at customer service handed the shirt back to me and told me it was supposed to be that way. She refused to do the exchange so we just threw it away.

  48. Mrsyancy

    I shop at Walmart quite a bit and return stuff quite a bit, but only with receipts, bc I keep all of my receipts, and have never had a problem or been flagged or asked for my DL. This is not a new thing they’ve been doing. This has been going on for a long time, so it seems to me like there shouldn’t be much of an issue if you have your receipt and abide by their return policy. But I don’t know. I guess it remains to be seen.

  49. AJ

    Hmmm. This doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. Maybe it’s b/c I don’t make many impulse purchases so I only have 1-2 returns total each year.

  50. Jen

    The store you communicate to you prior to making a purchase that you are not allowed to make returns so you can choose to shop elsewhere. It is unreasonable for the store to not honor their return policy without communicating that to the customer prior to the purchase. Can an individual that experiences this contact their credit card company or bank and contest the charges? I understand wanting to minimize financial losses but a store needs to be clear w a customer prior to purchasing so everyone is clear about what services they can expect.

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