What I Would Never Do In This Hobby (Returning Products)

In the world of manufactured spending, there are avenues that I explore that are really grey. Some people find it uncomfortable, others would find it totally within their realm. I wanted to write another reminder on the ethics. Ethics is dependent on each person and is tough to write a set of standards for everyone. In a chapter of my Organizational Behavior class on ethics, it succinctly put it that if you were on the front page of Wall Street Journal for the activities that you’ve done, is it something that you wanted to do?


There is one method I will never do for just the points: returns. Frequent Miler already mentioned in his post titled “Drawing the line”:

The reason I don’t like schemes that involve returning stuff is that those schemes hurt the vendors.  The vendors incur many costs without any benefit: they cover portal fees, shipping & handling, credit card processing fees, and whatever costs are involved in handling returns. In return for all of that, they get nothing.


In addition to the reasons FM mentioned, the returns game is not sustainable. Do it enough times, you will be banned from shopping with the retailer. They’ll write you a letter that basically says “we no longer want you as our customer.” Long time ago, I was on the other end of a customer getting banned. No, I wasn’t the one dropping the ban hammer, but my store manager did. I was the cashier at the time standing beside him watching the entire thing unfold. In hindsight, the entire practice was shady. I won’t write the entirety of the scenario for the fear of a copycat, but just know that it was with returns. Bans come quick after an investigation because this is a loss prevention technique.

So, really, the message to be clear is that don’t do anything you will land you in the slammer.

4 comments… add one
  • Agreed. Incidentally, a certain BA blogger was indirectly recommending this as an avenue for “manufactured spending”.

  • I discovered this accidentally, and agree that I would never intentionally buy something with the purpose of returning it for the points. I’m glad people don’t blog about it.

    I do a lot of clothing/shoe shopping online – with kids I never seem to have time to shop otherwise – and I return a pretty huge percentage of what I buy in that category. The clothing retailers seem very on-the-ball in that regard – the points are always deducted a few weeks later.

    • I haven’t had to return any online purchases, so I can’t comment on how good they are retracking points purchases, but it sounds like they’re on top of it.


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