Even when it’s not your birthday, you can expect to hear MANY HAPPY RETURNS at plenty of retailers. It’s a policy that makes a lot of sense (and dollars, too). Tracy Smith does the math (An earlier version of this report was previously broadcast on April 9, 2017):
If you’ve ever bought khakis or a school uniform, you probably know Lands’ End. And if you’ve ever tried to return something there, you know their policy, too: love it forever or get a refund. No time limit.
Seems like it’d be hard to make any money that way, but Lands’ End has turned a corporate policy into an empire.
The sprawling company headquarters in Dodgeville, Wis. — more than a million square feet in size — has a kind of airplane hangar quality to it.
Here, customers worldwide can order up a pair of pants, get them custom hemmed, even monogrammed with their name. And if they ever fall out of love with it, they can mail it here, where someone like Marie Miller will take it back, even if it’s been, well, used. “It’s our policy,” she said.
“So I could buy a swimsuit, wear it for ten years and then return it?” asked Smith.
Absolutely, said VP of customer services Kelly Richie.
“But you can’t resell it?”
“In some cases, no,” Richie said.
“So do you think that the customers feel so loyal that they don’t want cheat you?”
“Our customers are incredibly loyal, and we have such strong relationships with our customers that our return rates are really within an industry standard. So, it is just not a problem.”
Return policies in general can be opportunities for the unscrupulous, like people who buy something, wear it once and return it, something known as “wardrobing.”
The National Retail Federation says return fraud cost companies more than $9 billion last year. And companies like L.L. Bean are reportedly re-thinking their generous return policies.
Lands’ End says they’re staying the course. “I’d like to believe that our return policy builds trust and loyalty with our customers,” said Richie. “But they don’t abuse it, surprisingly.”
But they’ve tested the limits. For instance, an authentic black London cab was offered in the 1984 Christmas…