“Serial Returners” beware: Shoppers being banned for returning too many items

Some retail stores are cracking down on serial returners – people who consistently return items. Now, some stores are preventing frequent returners from bringing back merchandise, even if they have receipts.

Trainor said that one day when he went into the store to try to return a few items (again), instead of them all going through successfully, the cashier had some news for him.

“The first transaction got a warning. So, the next return was obviously denied, and [the cashier] couldn’t do anything about it,” he said. “I mean, these were items that were unopened with receipts, that I had bought 24 hours ago.”

The Best Buy manager told him to call The Retail Equation, a credit bureau for returns because he had been flagged as a “serial returner.” The Retail Equation provided Trainor a “Return Activity Report for Best Buy,” something that the shopper had no idea even existed. It showed multiple Best Buy returns a year earlier, prompting the store to ban any future returns from him.

So how did his name even end up in that company’s database? Well, Best Buy is a client of The Retail Equation, so when you’re asked for your driver’s license to return a product at that store, your information is entered into a national system that keeps track of your return. The Retail Equation collects the data, but they won’t name all their clients. Obviously Best Buy is one of them.

USA Today reported that some of their clients include Home Depot, JC Penney, Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Bath and Body Works and Sephora. However, The Retail Equation said that your return history with one store will not be shared with another. For example, if you return a lot of stuff at Victoria’s Secret, then Sephora won’t know anything about that.

One customer believes that you should be able to return anything that you want if you have receipts.

“If you want to return it, and you have the receipt and it hasn’t been worn, then you should be able to return it,” she said.

The goal of banning “serial returners” is to curb return fraud. Although Trainor was initially banned from returning things, he received some good news. Best Buy is allowing him to make returns again.