Retailers are now tracking what you take back – catching “serial returners” red handed in the process – in an effort to prevent repeated store returns.
Stores like Victoria’s Secret, Home Depot and Target require shoppers to hand over photo identification when requesting a product return, and according to the National Retail Federation, 62% of U.S. retailers have a similar policy.
A large service database called The Retail Equation then tracks how often you bring items back, quickly identifying frequent returners – who then may lose their right to bring back purchases anywhere.
According to the retail exchange, return fraud abuse is costing retailers and workers between 524,000 and 673,000 jobs, and states are losing a total of $870 million to $1.1 billion annually in sales tax revenues.
A customer who had recently shopped at The Children’s Place, and wanted to exchange a purchase, told CBS San Francisco: “I was required to provide them a copy of my driver’s license, where they actually took the information and scanned it into their database.”
She told the sales associate that she felt uncomfortable giving up ID, but she was told that the requirement is corporate policy.
Peninsula Congresswoman, Jackie Speier, disagrees with the practice, saying: “They have no right, I my view, of swiping my drivers license. I will never let someone scan my driver’s license.”
However, legally, if a customer wants to make a return, they are required to hand over their ID, or they forfeit their right to a return.
State law requires that retailers advertise any ID requirement in their return policy, and both Victoria’s Secrets and The Children’s Place put this policy on receipts and as well as at the counter.
Many commenters agreed with Jackie Speier, with one facetiously writing: “The Department of Homeland Security may as well be Home Depot at this point.”
However, some retail veterans see the benefit in this surveillance return system.
One store manager wrote: “I worked retail as a manager for years and THIS is the reason the prices keep exponentially going up.
“Businesses are fighting the A-holes that think its ok to buy an air conditioner or gas grill in May/ June and return it in September for full credit.
“They are also fighting the thieves that target high priced items and return them for store credit gift cards and re-sell them or use gift card trading websites.”