Online Retailers Might Tell You Just to Keep It

( – Yes, it’s that time of year again – the time when unwanted Christmas gifts get quietly returned for a refund. But this year, supply chain issues mean there could be a big difference in how retailers handle the seasonal flood of returns.

There’s always a cost to retailers when an item gets returned. Shipping costs, inspecting the item to make sure it’s fit for resale, and processing it back into the warehouse and stock-tracking system all take time and money. With global supply chain issues and rising gas prices pushing up shipping rates, these costs are higher than ever. Returns processing specialist Optoro says the cost of returning a $50 item has risen 59% in the last year, and now averages $33. For retailers, that’s getting to the point where a returned item just isn’t worth the trouble.

Now, Amazon and other retail giants are increasingly just issuing a refund and telling customers to keep the item. That way they have a happy customer and no costs to worry about. Yes, they lose the item, but below a certain price, it isn’t worth the effort.

Of course, retailers are working to streamline their return systems and cut costs, so there’s no telling how long the current situation will last. In the meantime, they do keep track of who’s asking for returns, so if you think this is a good chance to get some free stuff it won’t be long before you’re caught!

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