I work for a small retail pharmacy, and I used to be surprised at what people would try to return to my store. Almost fifteen years later, I think I have seen it all. Many people have developed the mindset that it is okay to steal if you’re going to bring the item back and to get a refund. That sounds maniacal but it’s true. These folks have justified to themselves that stealing merchandise may be wrong, but that companies can absolutely afford to lose some money. Return fraud is becoming a bigger and much costlier issue for retailers because of this concept.
I had a lady come into my store yesterday, and she asked if we sold gift cards. I showed her where they were and she shopped the rack for a bit. Then she came up to the counter with several of them and tried to pay for them with one a store credit. I told her she couldn’t buy gift cards with store credit and she got really upset with me about it. These cards usually only have a few dollars on them anyway, but when I scanned it, it said there was $130 on it. I asked her which location had issued this card to her and she wouldn’t tell me. She said she had returned some fragrance sets she had received as gifts and the store gave her this huge credit. The whole thing screamed return fraud to me, and I simply couldn’t believe she had gotten away with it. When someone tries to bring back expensive items to my store to return, I hate to admit it, but I put them through the ringer. If they don’t have a receipt, they better have some way to prove they bought the items or I’ll send them back out the door. It’s hard enough to stop shoplifting, and you don’t want to encourage theft with a too lenient return policy. It doesn’t stop there though.
I volunteer with an organization that collects toys for children during the holidays. I help pack the boxes and bags based on the list their parents have provided. As part of the process, we black out the bar codes on all the packages that are given to these children. There was such rampant return fraud attributed to these toy giveaways, we had to do something. Basically, the parents would come pick up the toys, take them straight to a big box store to return them all, and pocket the money. This year I added another touch to help stop the problem. I donated several rolls of Checkpoint Labels to the toy drive. As we unpacked all the boxes and sorted them, we went through and attached labels to every single toy. We put them on the fronts of the packages and we concealed them inside others. That way, if a parent decided to try and take the free toys back to the store, the active Checkpoint Labels would cause the alarm to sound when they came in the door. I called the area stores that were usually hit with this appalling type of return fraud and alerted them to watch and listen for the labels as well.
Return fraud can be a year round problem. Swiftly dealing with it can also help stop shoplifting in your stores too, though. If the criminal knows you won’t take the merchandise back and give them the money for it, then there’s no need to take the chance of getting caught stealing it in the first place. It just makes sense.
For more information on how to stop return fraud, contact us or call: 1.770.426.0547