Don’t Be Intimidated By Wardrobers; Use Alpha Shark Tags To Enforce Return Policies
I have a daughter who works in clothing retail, often at the customer service counter taking returns. Because of our similar backgrounds, I like to ask her about her experiences with attempted return fraud. She recently told me about a customer attempting to return an inexpensive lingerie item that had a shirt tag on it for $32.99. The ticket was from a shirt their store carries, but she said the lingerie piece was not one of their brands. While this is one return she was able to prevent, she did say that she has had a number of items returned that had obviously been worn. She described an incident of a man returning a pair of work pants that had a foul smell and had obviously been worn. Because the customer had the receipt and the tags, the manager on duty accepted the return. Since I have retail management experience, I knew the answer to my own question, but I asked my daughter if they were supposed to take items in this condition back. I also asked her why the managers would do this. The answer: No, they aren’t supposed to take the items back, but some do it to avoid the threat of a call to corporate.
Return fraud situations like this could easily be avoided if clothing retailers would use Alpha Shark Tags on the garments they sell. What is so special about Alpha Shark Tags? These tags are attached to clothing in a location that will ensure they are visible and can’t be concealed. For example, on a pair of slacks a Shark Tag would be applied on a seam near the knee so an untucked shirt cannot be used to cover it up. On a shirt the tag could be applied near the collar so there is no concealing it with a sweater. Wardrobing tags have to be removed once the purchaser gets home and decides they are going to keep the item and wear it. Once removed wardrobing tags can’t be reattached and store policy should dictate that under no circumstance will an item be accepted for a return without tag attached, except in the case of a defect in the merchandise.
It is an unfortunate reality that many people involved in wardrobing know that it is not difficult to return merchandise they have worn. They are aware that many retail managers at store level don’t like to have an upset customer and they don’t like confrontation. Part of this I blame on the culture that has developed around the concept that “the customer is always right”. No, the customer is not always right, especially when they are trying to commit return fraud. It is important to do the right thing for the customer who is making a legitimate purchase and return, but the people wardrobing are using stores as their personal clothing closet, buying new clothes, wearing them and returning them for full refunds. Too often I have seen managers tell a customer no to a return and the customer demand the number to a district manager or a corporate phone number. The dreaded threat of a “call to corporate” often ends up with a manager “allowing the return just this once, even though I’m not supposed to”.
Excellence in customer service starts with making your patrons feel welcome when they enter your store and making sure you find out what they are looking for and helping them make the choices that will fit them. Offering suggestions for accessorizing can also make a shopping experience enjoyable, especially for a shopper who may not know quite what will go with an outfit. Finally, ensure that the checkout process is easy and the customer knows exactly what the store return policies are. Customers who are honest will abide by return policies and won’t abuse them as long as a store is upfront about their policies and makes good faith efforts to correct a problem with defective merchandise.
If you use Alpha Shark Tags and explain the return policy to customers, you can stand by your policy with confidence. Even if YOU are the “District Manager” and “Corporate Office”, you can rest assured your good customers will continue to shop with you and those committing return fraud will find somewhere else to go where they can intimidate managers.
For more information on Return Fraud, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547