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Skippy

Buying something knowing that it will be returned

Buying something knowing that it will be returned  

140 members have voted

  1. 1. Is it ethical to buy something knowing that it will be returned? (Please read specific example below.)

    • Ethical
      127
    • Unethical
      13


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Example: Someone buys two rugs to see which looks better in the living room. At least one rug will definitely be returned. 

The choice of ethical/unethical is to be interpreted in a mild way.

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1 minute ago, Skippy said:

Example: Someone buys two rugs to see which looks better in the living room. At least one rug will definitely be returned. 

The choice of ethical/unethical is to be interpreted in a mild way.

If that’s your example, if would have no problem with this. I’ve brought home dresses for special events and ask hubby his opinion. The others go back.

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I think that's completely ethical.  I assume stores expect that?  I made a clothing return online today, and one of the choices was something like "ordered two sizes to see which one would work."  I don't think that's unusual at all.

 

 

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Things look different in the lighting.  I have no problems buying two rugs and returning one.  I know I am keeping one. 

Now unethical would be to buy a dress for grandma and her open casket viewing, putting it on her and returning it after the viewing ( this happens in some areas). 

Edited by itsheresomewhere
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For a rug, I don’t think it is unethical.  It’s not like you use the rug then returned it within the return period. 

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I would expect rug stores to let me see how the rug looks in my home, but I’d return the unbought rugs promptly and unchanged.

Edited by BeachGal
margaritas
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3 minutes ago, BeachGal said:

Edited just now by BeachGal

margaritas

Lol!

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I have no problem with this as long as the item is returned unused (or in the condition it was bought). I oftern do this with clothing for my boys. I will buy more than one size and see which one fits. I will return the ones that don't fit. Often I will then buy a second pair of the ones that did fit, so we have a spare. Only one of my three sons will clothes shop without grumbling the whole time. 

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51 minutes ago, May said:

If that’s your example, if would have no problem with this. I’ve brought home dresses for special events and ask hubby his opinion. The others go back.

 

I agree. But I accidentally voted unethical so consider that when you look at the vote count. 

 

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Ethical to buy things to try on, view in a space, set your hands on to consider...

Not ethical to wear out, use for more than a test run, etc. Though a lot of people do this and I’m not interested in finger wagging.

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Count me in with the people who are saying returning unused items is not a problem. I do not agree with people using items, like removing the tags carefully, wearing the item, and putting the tags back on and returning it. I've never done that. That's unethical to me. I frequently buy clothing to bring home, knowing I will return a portion of the purchase or even all of the purchase. And what about gift exchanges? My mom buys us items we would never wear. We return them for store credit and get something we will wear. Keeping the unwanted items is waste of her money. 

The only problem I'd have with returning a rug is using it for a long time, like 30 days or more, and walking on it and making it dirty. I suppose different stores have different return policies. I believe Walmart boasts allowing returning items hassle free. Or is that Kohls? However, I can't imagine them taking back obviously used items that would spoil the look of brand new.

I've returned a tv that we couldn't get back in the box the way it came. I've returned a computer that didn't perform the way we expected. I returned a food processor that was too weak to prepare the food as advertised. I do not see any of these things as unethical. I expect to purchase items that live up to their advertising so it's not my fault that they don't. I'm not going to keep something and waste money. That seems wrong to me.

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Per your example - it is perfectly ok. 

I have no problem with anyone returning something not used nor with returning something that is not satisfactory. (rips or tears after one use)

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My dad was horrified that I returned a rug after it was in our house. We were in the middle of a kitchen redo, and the rug had been in my dining area a week (we weren't eating there -- I would just walk by and look at it in different lights). My dad came to help us do some work and sat at the table with his work shoes on. When I protested and told him why, (that I didn't think I was keeping that rug), he was horrified that I was doing that. I'm like: they have a return policy! It's not like I'm wearing it to prom and then returning it! Sheesh. 

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I have to return LED lightbulbs today.  I bought several because they have colors.  Some colors don't work well in some rooms. The yellow ones are especially troublesome. And different brands are different tolerable levels of color.  

So I buy several, screw them in and decide if the color is tolerable or will drive someone insane. Then I take back the losers because those things cost a fortune.

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Given your example, it is ok.  

I knew of a person to buy things to use for a time with every intention of returning it after use.  To me, that is unethical.  

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Ethical under those circumstances.  When I was trying to find a dress for my son's wedding last aug. I noticed that some places, including some Amazon sellers, had a 15day try-it -on type options.. with free returns.   So, I think online stores realize that this is the price of not have a brick-an-mortar store to try things on and/or see them in person.

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Interestingly, this exact question was used once to me to demonstrate the great breadth of Talmud. Yes, everything really is in there somewhere! (The answer, for the curious, seems to have been "no", but not being a Talmudic scholar I'm open to the possibility that there are alternative points of view.)

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I see no problem with your example.  I've done it on occasion, and I typically inform the sales rep that I'm taking more than one home "on trial".  I ask what their return policy is, and they tell me "It's no problem, as long as you return it, clean/unused, within such-and-such time period".  I've done this with rugs and tiles from b&m stores.  I've done it with online shoes and clothing -- it's expected from Zappos, which offers free shipping both ways because they expect you to return what doesn't fit, and there is no way to know how a shoe fits until you try it on.  

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Your example is totally ethical. It’s only unethical (mildly) when people use a “return” policy to basically create their own “short term rental” for free. I think that’s (mildly) unethical even if it’s within policy and still in good condition upon return.

Unethical example: You holding a large dinner event and need some extra chairs that you wouldn’t normally have a use for. You buy them, use them for your dinner, carefully check their condition, then return them.

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I would buy one rug, and only return it and buy the other one if it didn't work for a hard-to-foresee reason. It's not like trying on shoes/clothes bought online in that the dimensions should be very clear. If buying online (vs. hanging up in a rug store), sure, it may look or feel different in person, and that's a valid reason to return it.

I'm not ready to call it unethical; however, it wouldn't occur to me to do it that way.

Edited by whitehawk

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No problem with returning things, as long as they are un-used.  I have even flat-out told salespeople I am buying both to see which looks better and that I will return the one I don't like.

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8 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

Interestingly, this exact question was used once to me to demonstrate the great breadth of Talmud. Yes, everything really is in there somewhere! (The answer, for the curious, seems to have been "no", but not being a Talmudic scholar I'm open to the possibility that there are alternative points of view.)

Wait, so the Talmudic take on the rug is that you can't order two and send one back? They really have worked out the rules for everything.

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I voted ethical.  I'd think it was unethical though if you bought the second rug just to reach free shipping minimums.  

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I think it's fine, and that stores that sell that kind of product expect and even want people to do it.  They want you to find the right rug.  

And FWIW, some higher end furniture shops do allow certain customers they know to borrow things like that to try, without paying.  Which makes it riskier for them.If you buy both, the shop is covered if something happens to the rug as it will be unreturnable.  So, it's really not a bad deal for them.

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I voted unethical but that was an oops.  I feel like that’s ok but not where people buy the dress or shoes then return.  I think if I was a shop owner I’d prefer people didn’t because it’s harder to know how much money you really made on a day.

what really gets me is all those mattress companies that are like comfort guarantee - try it for a month then return if you don’t like it.  I mean what happens to all the returned mattresses?  Does that mean if you buy a mattress from them someone might have been sleeping and making tEa on them for a month?  Eww

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unethical.

 the only reason things should be returned is if they are found to be damaged after purchase , before they are used OR you bought the wrong size and then need to EXCHANGE  size.

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Yes, same for curtains.   I can never know how the colors will look in my space.  That said, I do try very hard to pick the best choice!  

I often buy clothes in 2 sizes if I'm not sure which one, but if possible I buy just the 2 sizes,  try them out then buy more of thd right size.  

I currently have a stack of clothes to return from Christmas stuff that doesn't fit.

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3 hours ago, Farrar said:

Wait, so the Talmudic take on the rug is that you can't order two and send one back? They really have worked out the rules for everything.

 

There's apparently a whole discussion on the ethics of window shopping, on buying things without intent to keep them, and so on.

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3 hours ago, Melissa in Australia said:

unethical.

 the only reason things should be returned is if they are found to be damaged after purchase , before they are used OR you bought the wrong size and then need to EXCHANGE  size.

So it’s okay if you don’t use something? But you would consider laying a rug down for a few minutes to see if it’s really the right item to be using it?

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24 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

 

There's apparently a whole discussion on the ethics of window shopping, on buying things without intent to keep them, and so on.

Window shopping has questionable ethics? Whoa. It’s like “I’ve sinned in my heart” or something. You can’t even covet a new rug.

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I think opinions on this may be regionally-based.  When I married city-born dh, who had grown up with parents working in retail chains, he was amazed that I didn't realize I could return things that weren't damaged or the wrong size. It seemed perfectly normal to him, but it just wasn't done much in my town of small, independently-owned stores; it seemed kind of like a slap in the face to the owner, who had spent time helping you find what you wanted, and it certainly ate into their bottom line.  Who wants to cause financial problems for their friends and neighbors?  Even now, living in the city, I would only return something to a small, independently-owned store if there were a problem with it.  I no longer feel that way about making returns to chains.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Farrar said:

So it’s okay if you don’t use something? But you would consider laying a rug down for a few minutes to see if it’s really the right item to be using it?

I wouldn't take a rug back.

 

I think it may be a cultural thing. When SIL from Canada was here a few months ago. She and DH were tiling the kitchen wall. She wanted to just buy a huge amount of tiles and trim etc . then find what went with the kitchen and return the rest. We wouldn't let her. Firstly it would be absolutely a nightmare for the very small shop to think they had made a sale and then find it all returned, secondly they would have to order in the tiles and trim so they would have to foot the bill for the shipping with no sale, and thirdly I don't think that the shop has to accept a return unless there is damage.

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Yes, this may be cultural then. There are a lot of businesses that outright encourage this sort of thing now. Zappos comes to mind, for example.

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We bought an expensive violin from a local luthier for my son. Part of their sales policy is to let us pick a few brand new violin and take them to the teacher who will then play them and choose the best sounding one and have the student play on it for the period of one lesson and then return the ones that were not suitable (they allow this thrice for a single purchase) . They have contracts and policies for this procedure whereby the customer can simply state that the teacher was not happy with the sound quality of an instrument and return it. So, I think that in your circumstances, it is OK to return a rug that was not used if it did not work out with your design scheme.

Edited by mathnerd

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Hmm, I don't really think of this as a big retail thing in terms of items like rugs, or that situation.

I do think that it used to be big major retailers that had very jammy no-questions asked return policies, where you got people taking back curtains that had faded after 10 years of use or shoes that you obviously wore a lot.

But big ticket items that need to be seen in situ - I kid of think of that normally being part of the business mode for people to be able to do that.  In fact, I'd have said that independent small stores selling that stuff are actually more likely to have practices that make it easy to do that compared to big chains. Like, rather than making you buy both and return one, just have you leave some kind of deposit until the final purchase is made.

Kind of like, if I go to the chain reno store, I just have to make due with what they offer and buy what I want, or maybe buy samples.  But if I go to the little paint store, they have lots more little paint pots to take and try, or will let you borrow books of fabric samples or mixed packs of tile to look at in your house.  

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I guess I'd draw a big distinction between shoes bought online or a violin (which must be tried) and a rug or furniture piece that was available to see and touch in person.

I once tried to buy winter boots online, there being no store nearby that would carry the brand I wanted. I have a pair of shoes from the same brand. The same size in their boots did not fit. I consulted with a sales representative by phone and exchanged them for another size. Also didn't fit. I gave up, sent those back as well and got my money back--there was nothing else to be done. I don't see that as quite the same as "Oh, this color looked lighter in the store"--that I would suppose I would just get used to. Or, "I didn't think the table was quite this big"--I do own a measuring tape and expect to need to use it.

Edited by whitehawk
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I think it is fine if you return something before it is used to make sure it fits or to see if it fits in with other decor in the home. I do not think it is ethical to buy something that will be used and then return it completely planned because you only were going to use it once or a few times and not because it did not fit. 

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10 hours ago, klmama said:

I think opinions on this may be regionally-based.  When I married city-born dh, who had grown up with parents working in retail chains, he was amazed that I didn't realize I could return things that weren't damaged or the wrong size. It seemed perfectly normal to him, but it just wasn't done much in my town of small, independently-owned stores; it seemed kind of like a slap in the face to the owner, who had spent time helping you find what you wanted, and it certainly ate into their bottom line.  Who wants to cause financial problems for their friends and neighbors?  Even now, living in the city, I would only return something to a small, independently-owned store if there were a problem with it.  I no longer feel that way about making returns to chains.

 

 

 

Now that you say that I realized I am less likely to return something to a mom and pop store. Shoot I feel guilty if I go in and don't buy anything, especially if I'm the only customer in there. They are so eager for a sale and so incredibly helpful that it does feel like I slapped them in the face and saying thanks but no thanks. Recently I went into a locally owned quilt shop and the gentleman who owned the store met me at the door, asked if there was anything I specially needed, and after I told him of the quilt I had in mind, he looked just as hard as I was to see if he carried anything that would work. Unfortunately he didn't have what I was looking for in regards to large fabric needs but I did find a couple of fat quarters that would work for the smaller needs. I was so relieved to have something to buy after he had been so helpful. Even if I don't end up needing those fabrics, there is no way I'll return them. I'm sure they will come in handy one day.

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I have rarely done that, but recently I did it with a couple things.  I could not tell about the size (online purchases).  The comments say they run small or large, but who knows what that really means ... so I bought multiple sizes and kept the ones we could use.  The others were returned in brand new packaged condition so they could just re-stock them.

One of the places' return policy does have a restocking fee.  I don't know if they actually charge, since I ordered a replacement rather than a refund.  Seems kind of unfair to do that when you know people can't tell what size they are ordering.  My kid who wears size 5 kiddy underwear could not fit into the "large child's" cheer shorts.  Makes me wonder if they set this up on purpose to make money on restocking, which is unethical itself if you ask me.

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I've done that in furniture especially or buying something for a kid who is between sizes.

But I'll throw in my 2 cents as my parents owned a "mom and pop" shop literally and the shop was very well known in the community for being helpful and the only one of it's kind. We had people from big retailers sending us customers on the side when they went there and the retailer didn't have what they needed. But the items we sold could easily be damaged if not installed/handled properly. We had a large sign that spelled out return policies. Defective items we would repair/replace. But if they just changed their mind, they could return within 14 days in the original packaging, unused. Certain items (very delicate) were no return, but it said that clearly on the tag. If it was a special order, then there was a 20% down payment and no returns/exchanges unless defective. So that would have covered cases like Melissa's with the tile.

As far as going in and not buying anything, trust me we expected that. Not every person who walked in bought something. I worked there every summer and after school for 10+ years. Sometimes it was nice just to break up the time and chit chat. :laugh:

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16 hours ago, Melissa in Australia said:

She wanted to just buy a huge amount of tiles and trim etc . then find what went with the kitchen and return the rest.

 

Does the smaller stores local to you have tile and trim samples? When we bought our first home, the interior designer brought tiles and trim samples for us to pick from without obligation to upgrade.   I think we were able to borrow a carpet swatch to see which one we preferred.

Quoted is from a US chain store https://www.potterybarn.com/m/products/nolan-persian-style-rug-swatch/

”Rug swatches are available for $25 each. We will provide a merchandise refund for rug swatches if they're returned within 30 days. Each swatch is engineered to show a representative portion of the rug, accurate for color and construction. Please refer to images for overall pattern.”

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I have often bought more than one item knowing I was going to return one. I like to take them home and think on it. For example, I might want to try dresses on in different lighting or see how an item looks with my decor. I think that is perfectly ethical.

What is unethical is buying something you know you are going to use before you return it. I've actually heard people say they do this with clothing for a family photo shoot.

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13 minutes ago, Hikin' Mama said:

What is unethical is buying something you know you are going to use before you return it. I've actually heard people say they do this with clothing for a family photo shoot.

 

My local Macy’s had a lot of problems with people returning what looks like used winter coats because of their generous 180 days return policy. I heard people who do that at Walmart would pay in cash so it’s harder to track that the same person is often buying and then returning near the end of the return period.

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One of my favorite idiot customer stories is the woman who tried to return an obviously well-worn blouse. Her reason? She told me "It doesn't fit me anymore."

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Oops.  I answered too soon.  No problem if the desire is to actual end up with the product.  But unethical if the idea is to use it to meet a need and return when need is met.

 

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I think the specific example is fine.  In fact, I did similar.  I bought 2 universal remotes, unsure if either would actually work.  We opened the first, the less expensive one, and it worked, so I took the second, unopened, back.  But, truthfully, had the first not worked, I probably would have taken it back too. My reasoning was that...

If I had walked into Walmart, purchased a single universal remote, taken it home and it hadn't worked, I would have taken it back, then purchased the other one.  Then, if that second one hadn't worked, I would have taken it back too.  By purchasing both at the same time, I could test them both and return them both if neither worked.  It was the same process but saving me a trip.  

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I feel like I need more info... is the rug being stepped on? Were shoes on it? Animals? I think your dad was just concerned it was being used the whole time? Rather than rolled up and set aside or put back in the car? Is construction still going on? Is it collecting sawdust etc? 

The wrong living room rug got delivered to us last year. I asked Dh to be home to check the order but he wasn’t. I told the delivery guys I really don’t think this is the right rug. They said they were going to leave it and we needed to contact them if it was wrong. Dh spoke to the store and they said they’d send the right one but we could use the other in the meantime. It totally stressed me out so I rolled it back up (not an easy task). He thought I was being ridiculous but I said it might go back for sale and I don’t want the cat potentially scratching it/rubbing up on it (more the style she claws than the kind we ordered). In fact, I think he told me they would clearance it. 

When I get a rug I don’t want to worry about if it was walked on with shoes or animals rubbed up on it. But that’s maybe just me. That’s one of the only parts of the house we are strict about no shoes. We sit and lie down on the rug. Ds has allergies. The cat doesn’t care for the texture of this rug and often avoids walking on it. It’s like she’s playing “hot lava” and jumps from ottoman to couch. 

I did buy a runner for the new home and then realized it’s not long enough but it’s been in the trunk a while and had objects tossed on it etc. I really like it so I’m going to find somewhere for it. 

Unethical is not the word I’d use for your scenario. I think it’s a gray area if the item has been used/compromised. 

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On 1/8/2019 at 12:48 AM, Farrar said:

So it’s okay if you don’t use something? But you would consider laying a rug down for a few minutes to see if it’s really the right item to be using it?

I think it was out a week. That’s why I was asking for more details. 

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I found my new stud finder to be useless. It came from a mom & pop store... owned by my neighbors 😬. I have trouble with all stud finders so I’m not sure what the deal is. The magnetic one was inconsistent, too. We ended up keeping it. 

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