7 On Your Side:Restocking Fees - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

10/30/06

7 On Your Side:Restocking Fees

Cathy Jackson says she may not be the 'savviest' shopper--but she gives herself points for enthusiasm.

"It's a great stress reducer, and it's fun," Cathy admits.

With little time to shop, Cathy scoops up things she likes and returns them later, if they don't work.

"Returns are just part of my life, and I've accepted them. Although they are getting a lot harder," says Cathy.

Harder because more stores than ever before are tightening up return policies.  And not just when it comes to electronics.

Edgar Dworsky of Consumer World.Org says restocking fees now average about 15%!

"Stores have restocking fees in part to make sure you don't bring back the item, because they're going to lose money having to resell it or repackage it," says Dworsky.

For instance: more clothing boutiques now charge a return fee, Sears charges a 15% fee on many goods including things like lawn and garden, and household items if they're not returned unused in original packaging. At Target you'll pay if you return, not just for electronics but for items like framed art, certain scooters, and hot tubs. Sharper Image charges 10% if the item has been opened.

"Check the return policy before you buy. Know which categories have the fee, because you really want to be able to return it and get all your money back, not 85% of your money back," says Dworsky.

To get the most back: make sure to keep the item in top condition, saving tags and packaging. Sometimes a gift receipt may help avoid a fee. Avoid impulse buys. And remember, you should never be charged a return fee for a defective item.

"I have all my receipts, you know, everything is in great condition," says Cathy.

Of course, shoppers like Cathy are not fans of restocking fees. She'll be more selective about where she drops her dollars in the future.

"I actually have started shopping more in stores where I know they have a more generous return policy," says Cathy.

Dworsky says always look for a posted return policy near the cash register.

If you don't see posted details, ask about the return policy and any restocking fees before you buy.

And keep in mind, many online stores also now charge restocking fees.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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