Have you ever returned an item to a store for a refund after having used it?
Ah, another one of those morality questions, designed to measure your honesty. Look, I spent some time working in retail, so I will share my perspective after quickly telling my story.
Princess Thunderstorm (Cimmy) and I went to visit a friend in Vancouver, WA (suburb of Portland, OR). My son was very young at the time and he needed a playpen to sleep in. We could not fit ours in the car. Our friend helped us out by purchasing one at a local Wal-Mart and when we left, we gave it back to her so she could return it. We used it for just one night and so there was not significant wear and tear.
She works in retail (or at the time, she did), and I have worked in retail, too. This is how I see it:
- Ideally, a return should be when something doesn't fit, isn't the right color, etc. but is unused. I think, however, that some flexibility should be granted when the item has been used very little and the product is still in excellent shape. Stores process these items accordingly– they do not always put them right back on the regular shelves.
- Saving receipts is a must, or allow the store to retain a little information about you– say, if you have a credit/debit card, have a membership card, or whatever. This helps them cut down on fraud by tracking the purchase.
- There is a point of no return. Generally, I like to buy clothes at a brick and mortar store. If I have to order online, I have found that I should have precise measurements so I get the right size the first time. Of course, if you have sweat, bled, or otherwise expelled bodily wastes on it, forget it. If you have broken it– forget it.
- There are folkways against regifting and there is a certain ingratitude seen in item returns/exchanges at the holidays, but there are times when it is appropriate to loan, or donate and there are organizations to help with that. Look into thrift shops, service organizations, Freecycle, Craigslist, Amazon Marketplace, eBay, or see if someone you know can use it. I have, and have been thanked for it, too. Look to those places as well if you need an item, but not for very look. The Knights of Columbus loaned me a walker and a wheelchair after my back surgery, asking simply that I let them know when they could reclaim them for someone else in need to use.
- Not to slam Chinese manufacturing, but because shipping overseas is so expensive, it's better to buy something used that you know is of solid construction rather than something cheap that will break. I remember buying an Osterizer blender because it was a brand my mother trusted and I knew I could always get parts for it. I use it as a blender and a food processor. Although the original processor attachment bit the dust, I found other parts that would do the job.
- I follow the Owner's Manifesto and Repair Manifesto and fix items rather than buy again.