Policy not keeping shoppers local

Published 12:05 am Sunday, December 7, 2014

On Black Friday, my wife bought a pair of shoes in downtown Natchez.

She got home, and they didn’t fit. I was sent to exchange or return them the next day. Expecting a quick refund, I was surprised to be told that store “policy” prohibits refunds, but that I could have store credit.

I thought this old-fashioned, but did not protest too much in a store full of women shoe shopping.

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However, this store credit is only good for 30 days (after arguing they raised it to 60).

My wife tells me that is not enough time for them to get any new shoes in stock that she might want to buy (they did not offer to order her size).

As we live out of town, this credit will likely expire before we have a chance to use it.
This experience has left us with a poor impression of this store and will not be returning. Compare this to the Zappos experience (free shipping, free returns and return shipping), and, well, there is no comparison.

We have two major problems with this “policy.”

First, this kind of return policy is a relic from a bygone era.

When a store continues to hold onto it, it is telling customers that it does not trust them to come back.

Two, any sort of time limitation on store credit is totally unreasonable.

The store is essentially being given an interest-free loan in advance of a future sale. Whether the customer comes back in a week or a year, the money has already been handed over.

My wife and I are all for supporting local business, and are willing to pay a little more in order to benefit the local economy.

However, when we give money away, we prefer to give it to a registered charity.

We do not appreciate such “gotcha” store policies and will not shop in a store with such a punitive return policy again.

I hope local business owners will consider updating their return policies if they truly want to compete in today’s economy.

If not, I’m afraid Small Business Saturday will continue to be a necessary plea for sympathy from a customer base that has moved on to friendlier environs.

As a footnote, my wife found the same shoes online for 30 percent less, with free shipping — and a full refund if she wants to return them.


David Barnwell

Baton Rouge resident