Return Fraud is generally not a laughing matter, it costs money and it can take up a lot of time in dealing with those attempting to commit fraud. There are steps you can take to prevent some attempts at return fraud like using Alpha Shark Tags to stop “ wardrobing”. Wardrobing is the wearing of merchandise then returning it after it has been worn once or twice. Other types of return fraud include stolen merchandise returns, ticket switching and no-receipt or wrong receipt return attempts. After almost 20 years in retail, I would like to share with you some of the people you will encounter in your holiday return frenzy.
Who are the fraud returners you will meet this year after the Holidays come to an end?
1. The “I got it as a gift and I didn’t get a receipt” customer. This customer will be adamant that there was never a gift receipt and the person who gave the item lives far away. They may have even lost the gift giver’s phone number or when the gift giver moved to the Alaskan Wilderness they couldn’t get phone reception.
2. The “Screamer”. This will be the person who has seen too many talk shows with guests who tell the audience how they create a scene and get what they want. These customers will try to draw attention to themselves, knowing managers don’t want these antics to disrupt the other customers.
3. The “Crier”. This customer will get teary eyed and let you know of all the problems they are facing and why an in-store credit just will not suffice for their return. Hold onto your heart strings…these have the saddest of lives.
4. The no-receipt, “What do you mean I have to get the lowest price?” customer. This patron will be horrified to learn that without a receipt they will only receive the last markdown price of an item. These customers can easily turn into the “Screamer” or “Crier”, prepare for either.
5. One of my favorites is the “I’m not leaving until I get my money” returner. This customer has the ability to stand in one place at your return desk even after all options have been reviewed and you have walked away. This patron has long term tenacity. They customer may have removed Alpha Shark Tags from clothing and they aren’t concerned that you have a return policy stating tags have to be on clothing to be returned. Your policies are “not their problem”. Be prepared to maneuver your lines around these customers.
6. There is the all-powerful “I want the number to corporate” returner. This customer is sure that your efforts were useless and with the power of “corporate” looming over you the game changes and suddenly miracles can be worked on their behalf.
7. There is the “Deer in the headlights” customer. This customer may not say anything or respond to you after you have turned down their return attempt. This customer can be identified by the slack jaw, the non-responsive stare and inability to move from the return counter. While passive, this returner can be deceiving, it is not necessary to call EMS. Just check on them from time to time. Generally they will follow you with their eyes as you return to your other duties.
8. Finally, there is the “I didn’t wear it!” customer who returns the clothing with make-up stains and occasional food stains or perfume odors. Somehow this customer never saw the stains or noticed the smells when they purchased the item, nor, for that matter, did the cashier. This one will usually have the receipt and even the tags on the item. This is a tricky refunder and will seemingly be more familiar with your return policies than you. This person may even know state laws! (PS. If your store uses Alpha Shark Tags, you may be able to fend off this patron)
To be fair not all of your customers who fit into these categories are attempting return fraud. They may just be reacting in the only way they know how at the moment. But, it can be intimidating and frustrating for the service desk associate or manager who has to deal with them. With the right return policies in place and consistency in applying them, you can avoid many of the uncomfortable interactions. Alpha Shark Tags can stop wardrobing fraud for your store if you apply the tags properly, have the store return policy clearly posted and you enforce the policy consistently.
Let Alpha Shark Tags keep your post-holiday return headaches a little less stressful. See what Alpha Solutions can do to help minimize return fraud and make your store more profitable.
For more information on Return Fraud contact us or call 1.770.426.0547