Since more people shopped online during the 2020 holiday season than ever before, the number of online returns is bigger than ever, too.
Online returns are expected to be DOUBLE what they were after the 2019 holiday shopping season.
In some cases, though, retailers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon are using artificial intelligence to determine whether it makes more sense to just let customers keep their online returns along with a refund.
Here’s what you need to know:
If Walmart won’t resell a returned item, they probably won’t want it back.
A Walmart spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal they use software to consider Walmart.com returns on a case-by-case basis.
They take into account several factors before offering a “keep it” option, including your purchase history, the value of the item, and the likelihood Walmart would resell it.
This is right in line with the technology Walmart is trying to roll out for in-store purchases.
Amazon will only let you keep an item if it’s their error — if it’s cheap enough.
Make sure you’re up to speed on Amazon’s return policy. Partnerships with Kohl’s, UPS, and Whole Foods, plus conveniences like Amazon Lockers, make it easy to make returns. If you’re making a return for any reason other than an error made by Amazon, they’ll actually make you pay to ship it back to them, deducting the shipping cost from your refund.
If it is their error, they’ll let you return the item for free; if the item is cheap enough or small enough, there’s a decent chance they’ll just let you keep it.
Note: This only applies to items sold by Amazon.com, not by third-party sellers.
Every now and then, Target will let you keep returns, too.
Target told the Wall Street Journal that there are a small number of cases where returning a Target.com order costs the company more than it saves them. In such cases, you’ll be able to keep the returned items and receive a refund.
Don’t try to scam the system; it won’t work.
The software these retailers are using is designed to detect fraud. By trying to take advantage of a possible freebie via fraudulent returns, you’re most likely going to lose your account privileges. Plus, it’s illegal (and generally not cool).