The Truth Behind Restocking Fees

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Restocking fees are a relatively new phenomenon in the retail world and are most commonly applied by online retailers for electronics and electronics accessories. These charges serve several purposes to the companies that have implemented them, the main two being increased revenue and return deterrence. Most states have legal policies that enable companies to freely charge the restocking fees that they do, and so, customers need to pay close attention to how the charges are determined and to which products they are applicable.

When restocking fees first appeared, they mostly applied to electronics, but as other providers took notice, retailers such as mattress companies and furniture companies began to apply fees for restocking as well. For customers, these fees are a burden, since even a new, unopened, returned item might result in up to a twenty percent fee for restocking. Buyers need to express caution when purchasing from companies like Amazon, eBay, Overstock and others.

As a customer, your best, first line of defense against accumulating fees for restocking is to read company policy before making a purchase. Amazon lists their policy for all to read so that customers may have a more difficult time returning any item without a standard charge being assessed. On other occasions, a buyer may make a purchase and return the item, for any number of reasons, without the foreknowledge of a restocking charge. Sellers who have not clearly posted and warned customers of fees for return inventory are subject to make concessions to their customers.

When a policy is clearly posted, the customer has no avenues for rebut (save for taking their business elsewhere). However, when a policy does not state that a fee for returned items will be assessed, the customer can directly contact the supplier and inquire about unexpected charges. In most cases, the customer will receive either a full refund of his or her money, or the customer will receive a large percentage back. Even when the policies are posted, it is in a customer’s best interest to contact the company directly, as a short conversation may lead to a discounted restocking price. Customers must always remember, the seller cannot profit if it does not keep its customers, so all fees may be subject to lifting when the retailer is persuaded that doing so will keep a loyal buyer.

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