Readers Respond: Return policy best practices

"Marvin’s has a very customer-friendly return policy. If you buy something from us, you have the ability to return/exchange, repair or return/refund as long as you have a Marvin’s receipt. Right now, we do not have strict timelines established around returns (i.e., 30 days, 90 days, etc). We do require vendors to support our return policy as their customer, the same way we support our customers. We stand behind what we sell, and expect our suppliers to do the same. The easier we can make it to shop at Marvin’s for the customer -- with obvious policies in place to protect us against abuse and fraud -- the better our customers feel when they buy products from us. When we find issues of abuse, we address it accordingly, but for us, return abuse is the exception, not the rule. So we do not feel that crafting our return policies around the exception is a sound business practice, and it definitely would not make it easy for our customers.

“The mistakes that we have learned from over the years come mostly by learning from our fellow retailers. As they have tightened restrictions on product returns, it gives Marvin’s a marketing advantage, much like Costco practices with their customer-friendly return policy. It is far too easy to simply focus on the liability incurred by the occasional customer who abuses our liberal return policy. Some businesses have chosen to do exactly that, and in my opinion, they are at risk of losing sight of one crucial fact -- that an easy return policy encourages far more customer confidence and loyalty, and thus, more profits, than an overly strict return policy can put on the bottom line.”
— Craig Cowart
President
Marvin’s Home Centers