16 Comments

  1. That’s what folks say when the gift itself is no good, then they return it, if possible. Unfortunately, the ‘thought that counts’ is a PITA for those who have to deal with the returns.

  2. Just last week I saw an item on German TV that described why most merchandise returned by online buyers is simply discarded rather than re-sold. Except for very expensive items, for most manufacturers it is just not cost effective to verify that a returned item is still in perfect, sellable condition, so most of the clothes get shredded. The effort to return items into the stock system was also a factor.

  3. Yes, I heard that or a secondary NPR report on the same thing. My takeaway was that there is a movement to redirect the returns into some sort of charitable donations.

  4. At the Service Desk where I worked (ShopKo – pre-Walmart), we’d have to divide the returns (returned items the customers contended were broken or didn’t work were labelled as such) into departments, put them into that department’s bin, and call for someone in that department to come up and get the bin. Whatever happened to the item(s) after that, I’ve no idea.

    This was, however, prior to complete barcoding/’as needed’ stocking/etc., so I’m sure the process has changed, altho I still see bins behind the WM Service Desk when I return something.

  5. While Andréa has it, I was thinking the focus was less the PITA of dealing with the returns, and more that the thought doesn’t count for meeting their sales goals.

  6. This suddenly became obvious to me the moment I hit the POST button. But the rule is, once I post a comic, I have to leave it up.

  7. The problem with sending returns to charity is that someone who gets a donated piece of clothing doesn’t need to buy a new piece of clothing. So a manufacturer loses a sale, and a contribution to Gross Domestic Product (the primary measure of the condition of the “economy”) is lost. Remember, we live under Capitalism.

  8. I think the assumption that a poor person needing clothing would have gone out an bought brand-new is not likely. If purchased, it would probably be from a thrift store or other used source, with the same effect.

  9. Brian in STL: There is an item of clothing in the thrift store for the poor person to buy because somebody donated it to the thrift store. Whether the poor person unable to buy used would buy new or go naked remains to be seen.

  10. I don’t understand that response. The thrift stores exist outside of the program that donates returned items.

  11. I find it disturbing that anyone could consider the principle of capitalistic profiteering to be more important than social welfare, or even the simple (idiotic) principle of destroying perfectly good products and wasting landfill space on them.

  12. Kilby, more than half the people in my country consider capitalistic profiteering to be more important than social welfare, and many consider capitalism, not democracy, to be the country’s true ideology.

    For reference, see the opera “Mahagonny” by your countrymen Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.

  13. One of the questions in the citizenship test for US citizenship is “What is the economic system of the US?” and the “correct” answer is capitalist or market economy. I have many problems with this question, or actually, with the “correct” answer, principally: 1) nowhere in the Constitution is the economic system prescribed, so what we may have now doesn’t necessarily speak to the future or the past, nor indeed is any system proscribed. 2) The US is a welfare state, and as such is not a pure market economy, but indeed incorporates many “socialist” aspects such that “socialism” would not be an incorrect characterization, certainly compared to, say, Somalia.

    Anyway, I see the solution to the dilemma raised above is in making sure all externalities are brought into the problem, ie: the cost of over-production in terms of carbon emissions and other pollution and wasted energy, and the cost of an over-litigious, overly cautious society, which leads to absurdities such as perfectly good food or goods being too “expensive” to give away to needy people.

  14. Most stores that we shop in will ask if anything is wrong with the item and if there is label it as such, if not it seems to go back out on the floor. Depending on the condition of the return and what the item is if it is not damaged, most seem to go back on the floor as new, others that are damaged in packaging or such to mark downs and damaged are supposed to be returned – or whatever is done for a credit from who the store purchased the item from for the damaged item. Some items such as opened underwear packages or open food packages are not supposed to be put out even if in resellable condition.

    One reason that stores might not want to donate items – at least certain items – is that they fear being held liable if something happens to someone who buys at thrift type shop or receives the item from the charity that the store donated. It is a terribly shame that so many items that are perfectly usable are discarded into landfills instead of being put to use by those who need the items.

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