How a Lenient Return Policy Tricks You Into Keeping What You Don’t Need

There are many stores with excellent return policies . Some of them are so good that you can rent things from their stores. However, if you’re not careful, these lenient return rules can trick your brain into holding onto items you don’t really need.

In a recent meta-study (or research study) published in the Journal of Retailing , researchers found that stores with a return policy typically saw decent increases in purchases and small increases in profits. Not too surprising, the study also suggests that customers who shop at stores with long-term return policies are less likely to ever return something . Why? You do not worry about returning the goods, because the deadline is still very far away. You think to yourself, “I have time, I will come back to this later.” However, the longer you wait, you also run the risk of experiencing a ” vesting effect ” where you begin to take ownership of an item, even if you don’t necessarily need it.

Finally, you can take too long to think about the process of returning an item to the store. As Melissa Dahl of The Science of Us explains , the return process can be awkward, tedious, and almost like confessing your failure to someone. The longer you wait, the more you accumulate experience in your head and decide to return it, it just isn’t worth the effort. If you want to return something, do not use lenient policies. Return the item as soon as possible.

The Impact of Soft Return Policy on Consumer Purchase and Return Policy: A Meta-Analytical Review | Magazine “Retail trade through the science of us”


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