Buckscoopers often rely on some of our most prolific deal hunters (e.g. Earth, vikk and kryptick) to help them save money on a regular basis, although sometimes getting a great discount just isn't enough. On occasion we might simply not have the cash available to buy what we need.
Difficult times call for drastic measures and if you really need something but can't afford it (e.g. a new suit for an interview but you need the job first to pay for it), this article might be just the thing for you. What we'll delve into is how to utilise the returns polices of retailers to your advantage as means of getting you out of a tight spot.
Learning how to use a retailer's returns policy properly can be a great way to avoid costs and receive a helping hand when needed. A scenario might be that you have gone on holiday and forgotten something like a camera, which you may only need to use for a few days and that’s it (e.g attending a wedding). Or possibly you don’t know which router will best suit your home and you need to try one out before you decide to buy. So when you find yourself in a scenario like this, you need to know how to act within your rights in relation to a retailer's returns policy.
Before you proceed, returning items is a right that all Australian citizens have under the Australian Consumer Law. If you have ever bought something that you were not aware you could have returned, please click here to learn more about your rights as stated by the Australian government.
Prepare to return the item before you buy it. Rocking up to the returns counter unprepared will only waste your time in the queue and potentially mean you lose your chance of returning the product. Understanding this will help you prepare for the ‘borrowing’ process. Below are some pointers that you should consider before you try and save money by ‘borrowing’ from retailers:
- Receipts are Key: Always make sure you keep the receipt from your purchase, the majority of stores require them when returning an item. However there are a few stores which say they don't need them for a store credit or refund (but don't take the risk!).
- Ensure you can afford it: Return policies differ from one retailer to another, so make sure you learn each one's policy before you borrow. Otherwise if it all goes wrong, you will be stuck with that product and having to pay for it.
- Preserve everything: If you don’t look after absolutely everything that you get; box, cables, instructions etc., you’ve just bought yourself a spare that can’t be returned.
All of the above tips are precautions that you should take before you attempt to open the item. It needs to look brand new when you return it so act cautiously when handling the item/s. Your life will be made easier if you make the returns desk staff member’s life easier too by showing them a product that's in perfect condition.
Show Stopping Returns Policies
Businesses like ASOS have fantastic returns policies where you can return items that you don’t like / don’t fit / don’t suit you etc. However, not every company is as forgiving as ASOS. Certain stores may only provide a store credit whilst others may limit their return period to 15 days and/or require a re-shelving fee.
These are the most important deal breakers that you should be looking out for:
- Re-shelving fees: This is a fee usually charged to you when you return an item to prevent this exact ploy from occurring. Stores can charge up to 15% of the items value, however if you need to borrow an expensive item this could be a very cost effective way of doing so for a short period of time.
- Short return periods: The average is roughly between 30-90 days, however some sneaky stores will only give you 15 days on certain products. Don’t get caught out.
- Specific Items: Certain items can be returned whilst others may not. Online shopping can help you research all the information before you buy the product, without having to ask suspicious questions in-store yourself.
- Store Credit: This element of the fine print will result in your money being locked away in the retailer’s bank account forever. Be wary of store credit policies because you can still spend it, but only within that store.
Who have the Best Returns Policies?
Once you have drafted your plan, researched all that you can online and decided which items you are going to “rent”, it’s time to put things into action. I did a little research to see which stores offered the best returns policy to give you a helping hand in moving forward. The larger stores are better options, because taking advantage of a smaller family run business would be unkind as they may not be able to afford it.
The company states on their returns policy page, “We offer a refund or exchange if you change your mind within 28 days of purchase or delivery.”
All you need to provide is proof of purchase, i.e. the receipt. Note, if you have lost the receipt then you wont be rewarded a refund, only a coupon for Target branded items or absolutely nothing for other branded items.
A receipt will give you “rental” access to most Big W items, besides their Big W House brand items. All house brand item buyers will only be rewarded an exchange, repair or returns card and that’s without a receipt too. Return periods vary for depending on the specific product, so always return at the first opportunity you get.
Myer are stricter compared to the other two mentioned here. 30 days with a receipt will usually reward you with an exchange or refund offer, subject to their company’s product exclusions. Myer have been known in the past to also extend this 30 day period over times like Christmas to accommodate for that horrible looking t-shirt and socks mum got you last year.
Ultimately this method of "renting" should be deemed as a last resort and only used when you really need to. Saving money during difficult times can be a challenge, but if you need an extra helping hand at some point, this is an option you could consider.