Retailers should keep customer service in mind while writing a return policy. It's a delicate balance to strike, but an obtainable one. First, understand what customers want.
Shoppers want their returns to be effortless. They want the returns to have a reasonable time frame, include the ability to receive credit for the merchandise and not be penalized for making a return.
Consider the following when creating your return policy.
- Require a receipt for cash returns.
- Only refund in the same form of currency used for the purchase. For example, if the item was purchased with a credit card, issue a credit to that same card.
- If the purchase was made by personal check, many retailers will only issue a refund by mail after 14 days from receipt of the returned merchandise. This allows time for the original check to clear the bank.
- Consider offering store credits or equal exchanges to limit or eliminate cash refunds.
- Examine the length of time the store will allow returns. Some retailers limit returns to 30 days, others may allow returns for up to 90 days.
- Provide gift receipts to increase customer satisfaction.
- Determine what condition merchandise must be received and consider assessing a 5 to 25 percent restocking fee for opened items, unless defective or prohibited by law.
- Place your policy in plain view. This will not only make it easier for the customer to understand upfront what the store will allow, it is also a law in many places.
- Sales receipts are another option for displaying a retailer's return policies.
- Be consistent in enforcing the return policy without making exceptions for certain circumstances or times of the year.
- Require identification when accepting returns. Then use a computer database to track returns by customer and note any fraudulent or excessive returns.
- Train employees to spot return fraud and thoroughly understand (and enforce) the store's return policy.