Policies or Relationships?

I do a lot of shopping on line.  It’s rare for me to need to return items, but yesterday, it happened.  Actually, I didn’t need to RETURN as much as EXCHANGE.  I loved the item, but I had been shopping for a family member and got the size wrong.

What would you do in this situation if you were the merchant? The on-line seller has the correct size, in fact, they have more of that size than the size I purchased.  The merchandise was received only 24 hours ago.  All the original tags are still on the item.   When I contacted them, I asked if I could exchange and of course, I would expect to pay the return shipping as well as the shipping cost of the new item.

The reply I got was this:  “We are happy to sell you more merchandise but no exchange.”

Certainly, setting a return policy is the right of every business.  We have all heard the horror stories of people buying things, wearing them and then returning them.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, Nordstrom became famous for their customer service in part because of their generous return policy.  But is a rigid policy of this nature beneficial to a business?

In this situation, I elected NOT to buy the item in the correct size from this merchant.  Instead I went out, spent time and burned gasoline – even gladly paid slightly more for the merchandise rather than give one more cent of business to the original seller. Needless to say, the wrong size item I purchased will be the LAST thing I will EVER purchase from this particular on-line outlet.  They may have gotten a few dollars from me for an item I will now donate to charity, but what have they lost?

What customer policies do you have in place for your business?  Are they really in the best LONG-TERM interest of your business?  Are your policies standing in the way of building profitable relationships with your customers?

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