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Archive 2013 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?
  
 
sky_barker
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p.1 #1 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


I am really tired of purchasing new gear only to have it arrive well used with missing packaging and parts. It really takes the fun out of getting something new.

This seems to be more of a problem recently than it used to be. Maybe the 30 day return policy of Amazon, etc., encourages a lot of buyers remorse and frivolous returns. Or maybe it's something else. But, boy, is it getting hard buy something new which is new.

I am starting to think restocking fees might be a good idea (assuming returned items would be sold as open box).



Mar 16, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Sunny Sra
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p.1 #2 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


Odd...haven't had this problem with ANY retailer...and i do buy lot of stuff online
amazon, b&h, adorama, walmart, toysrus, cdw, newegg etc etc

Is this a 1 time thing or happens frequently to you?



Mar 16, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #3 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


Might be cuz so many people are in search of the perfect "copy" of a lens or camera so they do a "test" and send it back until they get one that is "perfect". An almost unheard of practice in the pre-digital days.


Mar 16, 2013 at 11:59 PM
DanBrown
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p.1 #4 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


I buy almost everything online and have not had this problem. I can recall only one instance where there was any indication that an item might have been previously opened/used. That was a plastic blister pack that had been cut and resealed with tape, but the item inside looked new.




Mar 17, 2013 at 12:52 AM
sky_barker
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p.1 #5 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


I have had boxes which have arrived a little banged up from different retailers which I have wondered about in the past but it was the OMD with over two thousand clicks and missing the flash shoe cover and some of the plastic bags which got me thinking about this. The lens which I purchased with this was also missing packaging. This was my first experience with something like this but I have seen enough posts where people talk about sending things back for no good reason it made me wonder how common this is.


Mar 17, 2013 at 03:00 AM
mpmendenhall
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p.1 #6 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


So far as I known (I am not a lawyer), it's actually illegal to re-sell returned products as new (with the assumption being a product sold is new unless specifically stated otherwise) under FTC regulations in the US (since "new" doesn't mean "used/refurbished," so you can't sell it that way any more than you could sell a box of bricks as a DSLR). If a retailer does this to you, file a complaint with the FTC consumer complaints department, and demand the retailer take it back and give you a real new one.


Mar 17, 2013 at 09:12 AM
henryp
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p.1 #7 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


mpmendenhall wrote:
So far as I known (I am not a lawyer), it's actually illegal to re-sell returned products as new (with the assumption being a product sold is new unless specifically stated otherwise) under FTC regulations in the US (since "new" doesn't mean "used/refurbished," so you can't sell it that way any more than you could sell a box of bricks as a DSLR).


I have never been able to find independent verification of this. Here's a scenario we've all lived through one way or another. Aunt Alice buys you a sweater for Christmas. Nice sweater. Cashmere. Not inexpensive. Came from a major department store and there's a branch not far from you. You try it on to placate Aunt Alice (and your wife, of course). You hate it. The collar chafes, the color's off and frankly it could fit better if it was a size larger (or if you cut back on the beer and chips).

You return it. You get store credit. What do you think the retailer does with it? It's returned. It's been removed from the box, unfolded, tried on, refolded, returned to the box. They restock it as brand new.

Now I know folks will say a camera isn't a sweater but this is retail we're talking about and the law does not make a distinction as far as I'm aware. If you know otherwise and can support it with independent verification I am eager to be educated.

Henry Posner
henryp@bhphoto.com
B&H Photo-Video



Mar 19, 2013 at 05:42 PM
mpmendenhall
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p.1 #8 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


The closest thing I can find with a quick web search is this exchange between Sony's lawyers and the FTC, asking for clarification and advocating their own legal reasoning about return restocking. So, it's clearly a delicate and subtle area of regulation on exactly where the line is drawn between legally acceptable or not restocking practices (with likely different specific criteria for sweaters and cameras).

Sony clearly wants the most generous interpretation of the law for re-stocking their returned electronics. Apparently, existing case law makes a (vaguely defined) distinction between equipment that has been "used" (which cannot be re-sold as new), or merely "inspected" (which can be re-stocked). Sony wants to define this distinction for electronic items such that an item has been "used" if it was ever switched on, but merely "inspected" if it was unboxed for viewing without being switched on.

The FTC "Staff Advisory Opinion" generally concurs, with important caveats that the return is really in "like new" condition:
“As an initial matter, by limiting its program to products that have never been turned on, it appears that Sony would be reselling products that fall within the "inspected but not used" category referenced in the 1969 Enforcement Policy. However, the analysis does not end there. The products, as a result of prior purchase, may carry defects upon return. For example, a returned product may never have been turned on, but nonetheless may be damaged or missing requisite parts and inserts. Sony's program appears comprehensive enough to avoid such defects and protect consumers from injury, thereby likely rendering the fact of...Show more

Presumably, retailers that go further than Sony, by re-selling "new" items that may have been turned on or are damaged/missing parts, fall afoul of consumer protection laws. If, like the original poster, you can tell the item you bought isn't new ("the fact of prior purchase" is not "rendered immaterial"), then you have a valid (and reportable to the FTC) complaint against the retailer.



Mar 19, 2013 at 06:41 PM
henryp
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p.1 #9 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


mpmendenhall wrote:
Sony clearly wants the most generous interpretation of the law for re-stocking their returned electronics. Apparently, existing case law makes a (vaguely defined) distinction between equipment that has been "used" (which cannot be re-sold as new), or merely "inspected" (which can be re-stocked). Sony wants to define this distinction for electronic items such that an item has been "used" if it was ever switched on, but merely "inspected" if it was unboxed for viewing without being switched on.


I've seen the link you provided. It's my understanding that Sony issue discusses whether they can sell items as new which were returned to them to a retailer like B&H and does not discuss the retailer to end-user transaction. But I'm not a lawyer and should not be mistaken for one.

Henry Posner
henryp@bhphoto.com
B&H Photo-Video



Mar 19, 2013 at 07:48 PM
mpmendenhall
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p.1 #10 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


I'm not a lawyer either, and unable to determine exactly how this exchange applies to every link in the manufacturer-to-consumer chain. However, I suspect the more general principle applied by the FTC about what makes a practice deceptive applies to any sale:

“Materiality is a core element of deception. A misrepresentation or omission is material if it is "likely to affect a consumer's choice of or conduct regarding the product," and therefore, injures the consumer who may have otherwise made a different choice.”

So, while retailers may not fall under the strictest requirement about assuring returned merchandise wasn't powered on at all, the original poster's complaint of "well used with missing packaging and parts" indicates issues that are clearly "material" and make the sale as "new" a deceptive (in the legally forbidden sense) practice.



Mar 19, 2013 at 08:12 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



borderlight
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p.1 #11 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


OP wrote:
This seems to be more of a problem recently than it used to be. Maybe the 30 day return policy of Amazon, etc., encourages a lot of buyers remorse and frivolous returns. Or maybe it's something else. But, boy, is it getting hard buy something new which is new.


I have not generally found this to be the case, especially when dealing with reputable retailers. If a camera is sold as new and it isn't, it's fraud. However, proving that in a court of law is another thing, especially if you are a distance from the online seller. Equally guilty are those who send back lenses because they didn't like their "copy", something on par with wearing new clothing for one day, then returning it for a full refund. Retailers lose $10-15 billion a year on returns. Brick & mortar stores build the cost of theft into their prices so it isn't unreasonable to assume that a restocking fee is implemented to help to defray costs. It's a balancing act for some retailers. If you punish all customers for the sins of others you might end up losing them altogether.

Walmart has large bins of discarded, sometimes unopened returns. It probably isn't profitable to send it back to China. Retailers have a number of ways they can disperse returns for a reduced profit:

1) Use as floor displays, demos, or refurbished items.
2) Open box sales, or discounts
3) Notify the supplier for credit if item is defective.
4) Some losses qualify as a tax deduction
5) Sell as seconds to outlet stores
6) Target donates pallets of returns to charitable organizations like Goodwill who then resells them.





Mar 19, 2013 at 09:32 PM
BenV
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p.1 #12 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


I've never bought a new item with missing parts. Stop buying from shady dealers and you won't have the problem


Mar 19, 2013 at 09:38 PM
henryp
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p.1 #13 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


People Who Buy And Return Stuff Cost Retailers $16 Billion A Year

Henry Posner
henryp@bhphoto.com
B&H Photo-Video



Mar 20, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Savas K
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p.1 #14 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


At least with camera gear, there's little chance of the returned product being farted in or having BO on it.

Henry, that 16 billion a year sound impressive, and I am aware of the company that is looking to make a buck out of it by demanding personal information from those that return, but what percent of the trillions made in retail is the 16 billion a portion of? (If it even is 16 billion?)



Mar 21, 2013 at 12:41 AM
borderlight
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p.1 #15 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


Walmart, the nations #1 retailer, made a profit of $15.7 billion last year. That should give you some perspective. My Internet search reported $10-15 billion in returns, Henry's linked article, using the same Internet , was more definitive coming in at $16 billion. Whatever the total US retail sales revenues is I think we have to agree that it is a large chunk of change.


Mar 21, 2013 at 02:26 AM
henryp
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p.1 #16 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


Savas K wrote:
At least with camera gear, there's little chance of the returned product being farted in or having BO on it.


Recently we returned a camera a customer wanted to sell to our used dept. The pics he sent showed a pristine camera in excellent condition. We made an offer, he sent the camera to us. It reeked of every cigar ever smoked in North America.

When we told the customer we could not buy it and were returning it because of the overwhelming cigar odor he became irate.

Henry Posner
henryp@bhphoto.com
B&H Photo-Video



Mar 21, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Savas K
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p.1 #17 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


LMOA. Good anecdote, Henry.

Just the other day I was mulling over a used Billingham on eBay and one of several images made me overlook it. There was a cigar cutter laying next to the bag.



Mar 22, 2013 at 07:53 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #18 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


Laughing my off ass.


Mar 22, 2013 at 09:22 PM
DanBrown
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p.1 #19 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


henryp wrote:
When we told the customer we could not buy it and were returning it because of the overwhelming cigar odor he became irate.


Perhaps the camera was used to take cigar photos.












Mar 22, 2013 at 10:36 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #20 · Should the big retailers start charging restocking fees?


henryp wrote:
When we told the customer we could not buy it and were returning it because of the overwhelming cigar odor he became irate.

DanBrown wrote:
Perhaps the camera was used to take cigar photos.


That's just too funny! How wude!



Mar 23, 2013 at 12:56 AM





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