Retailers are telling customers to keep items instead of returning them. Here’s why

Big retailers are letting customers keep items they want to return to avoid paying for shipping.

Free returns are great, but know what’s even better? Free stuff.

Retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart have left customers pleasantly surprised by letting them keep refunded merchandise instead of returning it, per Business Insider.

Why are they doing this?

Free shipping has long been table stakes for consumers, but it turns out retailers don’t want to pay for shipping either, especially for an item coming back.

Due to the pandemic and global logistics challenges, the shipping burden has increasingly fallen on their shoulders:

  1. Online returns rose 70% in 2020 as consumers were less willing to drive to stores for returns.
  2. Retailers have been stuck with the bill for processing returned items (at a cost of $10-$20) and covering freight, which can run as high as 15%-20% of the cost of the products.

Before you go plotting your next big haul…

… there are some rules — not everything or everyone is eligible for freebies. The new return giveaway policy is restricted to customers who have a purchase history with the retailer, and items that qualify are typically:

  • Unlikely to be resold
  • Cheap enough that the cost for the retailer to process the return isn’t worth it

So if you had visions of copping a new flat-screen out of the deal, think more along the price point of fidget spinners.

And don’t go too crazy, or you may get banned from Amazon for filing too many returns.

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