There are plenty of stores out there with great return policies. Some are so good you can basically rent stuff from their stores. If you’re not careful, however, those lenient return polices can actually trick your brain into holding onto items you don’t actually want.
Photo by Keith.
In a recent meta-study (or study of studies) published in the Journal of Retailing, researchers found that stores with return policies usually see a decent increase in purchases and a small increase in returns. That’s not too surprising, but the study also suggests that customers who shop at stores with long-term return policies are less likely to ever return anything.
You don’t worry about returning an item because the deadline is so far off. You think to yourself, “I have time, I’ll get to that later.” The longer you wait, however, you also run the risk of experiencing the “endowment effect“, where you start to take ownership of an item even if you don’t necessarily want it.
Lastly, you can overthink the actual process of returning an item to the store. As Melissa Dahl at The Science of Us explains, the return process can be awkward, tedious and almost feels like you’re admitting failure to someone. The longer you wait, the more you build the experience up in your head and decide returning it just isn’t worth the effort. If you want to return something, don’t take advantage of a lenient policy. Return the item as soon as you can.