Tag Archives: online shopping

Online Returns Are Going to Cost You

In the last few months, a number of large retailers have started to pump the brakes on returns for online purchases. Yes, it always starts south of the border, but will be here pretty quickly.

According to NRF research, the online return percentage in 2019 was 8.1% but jumped to 16.5% in 2022. That’s expensive for retailers and they’ve started to work on reducing that percentage.

Macy’s has implemented a $10 fee and H&M one for $6. But what sets the tone is the largest online retailer Amazon: For certain product categories it’s a one dollar fee. Bet on that expanding in categories and increasing in rate. Other ways are that about 80% of retailers will now have YOU pay the shipping fee to return items and others are experimenting with sending you an offer of a partial refund where you keep the product.

For months now I’ve wanted a New Orleans Saints sweatshirt. Yes, any NFL merchandise is massively overpriced, but I found a sort-of deal for US$60. Then checked the fine print: $20 shipping (never!) and it would be $25 to return it since sweatshirts have a wide variety of medium size definitions and fits. That makes it around $140 for the attempt to buy one that may not fit. Guess it’s never going to happen…

Update: Add Bed Bath and Beyond to the companies aggressively charging for full return charges in many cases. The company went bankrupt, closed all stores and was purchased by Overstock. Their website looks the same, but items are now online only and shipped out of the U.S. My first (and last) purchase of a $122 dresser that wasn’t correctly sized/described on their website took six days to even receive a “return authorization.” Six days of getting ghosted? Then they provided a UPS return label and refunded a partial $81 with no explanation. Seven days and five emails were ignored before I found someone at head office. Oh, that’s for shipping. Another 15 minutes to explain it was THEIR incorrect specs which caused the return before they agreed to refund the $41 UPS charge. Oh, and if I had returned it via UPS, the charge would have been $23. So does Overstock pay almost double what a one-off customer with no corporate account pays or has the return shipping become a major profit centre to them? You decide…

A 60% Discount So You Can Pay 400% More – Seriously

We’ve talked a number of times about the games retailers play on discounts.
If you search my stories you’ll find a number of them that are quite

This one is another perfect example. I am trying to get a custom canvas
print of 12×54 inches and re-ordering some client gifts, which are standard
12×12 inch. The custom one is tricky to price out – the standard 12×12 is a
no-brainer: It should be around $14.

Here is the canvas champ shopping cart where they’re currently parked
because the price isn’t what I’m willing to pay:


$18 for each, then a 15% discount and free shipping. I’ve paid from $11 to
$16 over the past few years and multiple orders…so I’ll wait for a while.

Here is the other company called canvas pop out of Ontario. Their Black
Friday promotion is a 60% discount. Wow – who wouldn’t be excited by that! But
their business model is to use insane pretend retail prices and then apply the
discount that’s totally useless. After all, it’s not the discount. It’s what
you end up paying!!

$181 for the same $14 canvas! Then the 60% discount and STILL a net price of $72!

In other words: Do you want a huge 60% discount and still end up paying FOUR TIMES MORE? Why do they do it? Because very few people do the math or the comparison shopping. That has to be true or they would immediately change their pricing got-ya!

Bed Bath & Beyond Bankruptcy?

Yikes! Another well known retailer may be going out of business as early as next week.

Bed Bath & Beyond warned yesterday that it may have to file for bankruptcy and has started to prepare for it, at least internally, stating that there is “substantial doubt it can continue its business.

Having already announced that 150 of its stores were closing in August and laying off 20 percent of its work force appears not to have been enough – or soon enough. Third quarter earnings were well under expectations with sales down 28%, and Tuesday’s release of fourth-quarter earnings are likely to show that the Christmas season wasn’t sufficient to help.

How sad, even though the writing has been on the wall for a few months when suppliers started to refuse to ship inventory. Bed Bath & Beyond is a well known and well respected company. It’s easy to write it off to “people just buy online.” However, that’s often an easy excuse, too. Changing to generic brands cost them a lot of business from loyal customers looking for their favourite brands during the pandemic. Three different CEOs didn’t help, along with big staff turnover, turn-around plans that came late, and a decade of experimenting with private-label products was mismanaged, at best.

In an online world, it also doesn’t help that their website is bad – really bad. The joke among staff is that it’s easier to search for their products on google than their own website. I can vouch for that with a purchase last week. But that also applies to Rona, Lowe’s and even various departments for Walmart!

Still, I’m going to go shopping there today or Monday. Here’s to hoping it won’t be the last time.

Millennials Helping Change the Retail World

Millennials are helping all of us save a bunch of money in vast numbers of industries. They’re getting to being the largest group in the population, so retailers have no choice but to adapt.

One of them is with car repairs. Typically you take in your vehicle and deal with a service advisor whose job is to coordinate the work and to upsell you! Yes, they call it a treasure hunt – where they look for other work that could be done, or might need to be done sometime… The modern way has started at a service shop in San Francisco called Luscious Garage: No service advisor – you deal with the mechanic directly. That’s the person fixing it, and that’s who you communicate with, so it immediately takes out communication problems, the adversarial relationship, and the stress and pressure of being upsold.

The mechanic will text you with what they’re working on. So you might get a text update that they did the breaks, and here’s the picture of the newly installed pads. And there’s a hose leaking – here’s the picture of the leak. Want us to replace this hose for $30, and half hour labour cost? Customer love it – and that’s the wave of the future!

Online mattress purchases are only around 15% but that’s enough to drastically shake up the industry right now. The same is true for Gillette, which is in massive upheaval with an online retailer called Dollar Shave Club. It just take someone to find a better, cheaper, and more convenient way to shop. And it’s a great thing for an industry with massive markups. The industry has always been thought of as being right up there with buying a used car! Any upheaval will be your financial gain. The industry upheaval is to the point where Mattress Firm, the largest seller in the U.S., has filed for bankruptcy.

The changes are for two reasons: Firstly, Amazon has now gone into the mattress business. Look at the companies that also sell them and their massive decline in stock prices when that was announced late last year. The other one is a company called Casper. They’re way cheaper and compress a mattress so it can be shipped via courier. And, from what I’ve heard, they’re supposed to be great. You can also go to Costco and buy one in a box. And they’re all compressed to be able to fit into the back of a Honda Civic – that seems to be the industry rule for shipping size. Plus, now you have upwards of three months to return it – try that with a traditional mattress purchase!

Virgin Hotels caters to millennials. One of the biggest pet peeves of customers on every survey is the quadruple priced stuff in the minibar. That $2 package of nuts for $9! Their hotels price it at exactly the same as stores in their area – period. Managers send a staff member to the nearest Macs and Walmart to get the price that they’ll use in the minibars!

George Boelcke – Money Tools & Rules book – yourmoneybook.com