As a retailer, there is no legal obligation for you to accept returned items unless they are damaged. However, your return policy is a critical part of maintaining good customer relationships and should appease both you and your customers. Here are some ideas on what could be included in your return policy, whether you are a brick-and-mortar or an online establishment:

  • The services you offer
  • Exchanges, gift cards or other forms of compensation
  • Proof of purchase
  • Condition and time limit of returned goods
  • Return exceptions (i.e. final sales or hygiene concerns)
  • Refund in same form of currency (i.e. debit, cash or credit)
  • Holiday or gift returns or exchanges
  • Refund of shipping charges when goods are damaged
  • Restocking fee

Take time to train your sales staff about your return policy and remind clients to keep their sales receipts. In addition to your written policy, keep these tips in mind:

  • Your return policy should be in plain view for your clients to read
  • Do an annual check-up of your return policy to see what your competition offers
  • Make your returns an opportunity to sell a new product
  • Decipher your clients' needs (i.e. different colour or style)
  • Offer in-store credit or a gift card for customer satisfaction

Check your clients' identification to note any fraudulent or excessive returns. The following 2008 Statistics Canada survey provides information on return fraud that you should be aware of.

Statistics Canada Survey of Fraud against Businesses

To learn more about effective sales and customer relationship techniques, visit our section on sales and customer relationship management.