Service of Returns

April 22nd, 2021

Categories: Retail, Returns


People expect to be able to return items whether pricey or not.

A friend told me she felt lukewarm about a mattress she’d just bought and mentioned that she had three months to return it.

Trader Joe’s, as I’ve previously written, is customer friendly in this regard. I returned beer introduced for St. Patrick’s Day that tasted medicinal. The store took back the remaining three cans no questions asked.

I’ve written before about a colleague from long ago who switched his very old neckties for new ones at Brooks Brothers. The store had an over-generous return policy in the day. He claimed the tie had worn out.


AVG sells antivirus software and it consistently offers free trials to test expanded coverage. Similarly newspapers, magazines and video streaming platforms give folks an opportunity to try them out. A cancellation at the end of a trial period is a virtual return.

Pets can be returned to shelters.

Some of the reasons for returns at Costco that posted are as nervy as they are amusing:

  • The store got back an empty wine bottle because the customer got a headache from its contents.
  • Two months after he’d bought a laptop a customer returned an eight year old one–even the manufacturers were different. He stuck the sticker with serial number from the new computer on the oldie.
  • A woman threatened to call headquarters when the local store refused to accept a 13 year old frozen fish.
  • A pressure washer had stopped working so back it went. It was15 years old.

What does a retailer do with an almost new mattress? I wonder how many people take advantage of free week or month offers by streaming video services just to watch a show or some programs. I don’t think that those cancellations should count as returns because the buyer intended to give up the service from the start–do you? What was the nuttiest return you’ve tried or heard about?

Brooks Brothers neckties Photo:

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9 Responses to “Service of Returns”

  1. ASK Said:

    I hope they fumigate any of those returned mattresses! But I wonder how many are returned. I’m sure those retailers charge a pick-up fee as well as a restocking fee. It seems unlikely that the retailer would swallow the return without charging something…

  2. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    Well….I’d like to return my husband but apparently there’s a time limit on that. It’s way less than the 52 years we have been married.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    For bedbug reasons I doubt they are allowed by law to resell a mattress that’s used even for one day. That doesn’t mean that some don’t anyway. Ugh.

    If a mattress company doesn’t remove your mattress when installing a new one you must cover the old one in plastic before tossing. Most supers or building managers won’t accept an old one without the covering.

    I think you are right–most people will live with what they’ve bought or a store wouldn’t offer the return.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m laughing too hard to write much more–I think you win! And congratulations!!!

  5. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: A friend told me about someone who returned a cooked roast beef to Costco or BJs. They “didn’t like the taste.” Disgusting but store took the return as “that’s the policy.” Same friend admitted returning some sort of ricer, complete with half-cooked rice still inside, to same big-box retailer–again due to generous return policy. Gross!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    For people like this the word chutzpah was invented.

  7. BC Said:

    Nutty topic.

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    There’s a difference between the return of a full bottle of beer and a used mattress. Without having to go into detail, it’s clear the used mattress poses the possibility of a health hazard. Perhaps one can protect ones self by insisting the mattress be sealed, or getting some form of documentation in writing.

    I don’t like returning things since it prolongs the shopping experience, but will do so when the alternative is to lose money. There are tons of stories of successful thefts involving price tags, a sad commentary on customers who are supposed to “always be right.” Using free trial periods with an intent to cancel before there are costs used to work well. Then there’s the one about a creative soul who was able to cleave wires onto those of a utility, thus getting free gas & electricity. That was a long time ago. It’s doubtful he could pull it off today.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Netflix is cracking down on people who lend their sign-in credentials to a ton of people none of whom pay for the streaming programs. I heard about people who feed off others’ electric bills but today, as you say, pretty tough to do. So much is computerized.

    I don’t like returning things either.

    If I bought a mattress from a company that let you return one in a day or a year, I’d want assurances and proof that the one I bought had never been used–or sent to another person’s home–for even ten minutes.

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