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Here’s Why Companies Like Walmart and Target Will Grant You a Refund and Let You Keep the Item You Want to Return

Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and Amazon logos are shown against a background of a customer return. A receipt is overlaying that, with a red “no” sign over it.
Source: Wikipedia/Canva

Have you ever walked away from a return with both your old product and the cash in hand? While this may come as a surprise to some, many major retailers allow you to maximize your value; telling you to keep the “wrong” item and still giving you cash back. Here’s why that happens and what you need to know.

Which retailers let you keep the wrong item and still give cashback? 

Amazon, Walmart, and Target are just a few of the large-scale retailers that participate in the practice, allowing you to get a “returnless refund,” no questions asked, per MSN. 


How many items are returned via returnless refund? 


Per the news site, company representatives from each of the listed companies above went on record with Business Insider, stating that only a “small number” of orders are submitted for the returnless refund process, though no official numbers were provided. 


MSN goes on to note that certain items, such as laptops, TVs, and other high-value tech items, are likely to be excluded from the practice. However, smaller items may not be, as the retailer is less likely to be able to resell the items. Another reason these items might be eligible for returnless refunds is that the cost of the processing steps might be greater than the actual value of the product.


When did refundless returns start? 

If you can’t remember at time when this was mainstream, you’re not alone. While a select few retailers have done this for several years, MSN notes that the practice didn’t become regular until the pandemic hit — forcing retailers to adapt and minimize their contact points to keep their staff members safe. 


How do companies make the decision to start refundless returns? 


Expert Nathan Smith, prior senior vice president of products at Appriss, spoke with MSN — noting that there are both customer service and economics angles that play into the retailers’ decisions. 


“It’s outbound cost,” he told MSN, “…but there’s also the intangible cost as well: If it’s a non-fault return from the consumer’s perspective, you are adding to the consumer’s dissatisfaction and…the likelihood that they may not shop with you again.” 


Smith also confirmed that consumers are being more cautious of their carbon footprint, which might result in slowed return processes and a reduced ship-back rate. 


Companies continue to find new ways to save, streamlining the return and refund process. Consumers can see examples of this with the Amazon/Whole Foods drop-off and return steps, Target’s drive-up return options, and other such examples. 


With these innovations have come new technology and advancements in security — protecting consumers and companies from fraud and policy abuse. Mark Matthews, NRF Executive Director, has confirmed this, stating that “as a whole, the industry is prioritizing efforts to reduce the amount of merchandise returned in stores and online.”


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