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Why some retailers are letting customers keep unwanted items

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Yahoo Finance reporter Dani Romero details how some retailers are grappling with excess inventory by allowing customers to keep their items even after getting a refund.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

RACHELLE AKUFFO: If you hate the rigmarole of returning items that you've bought, good news, some retailers are trying to keep shoppers happy and keep costs down by letting buyers keep the items that they bought and processing a refund. So why are they doing this? Dani Romero is here to help us understand that. Dani, why are retailers going down this route?

DANI ROMERO: It really comes down to costs. Will it cost us more to take this back or will we gain something from this sale? And like you said, some of these large retailers are really processing refunds, but they're also telling their customers to keep those unwanted items. Here, let's take a look at an example of a Target customer, who just-- who received this email that says, "looks like the item you're returning doesn't need to be returned to Target in order to get your refund.

Feel free to keep it, recycle or donate it." And when I spoke with another Target customer that also received the same response from Target, she tells me that it was a little bit odd, but she wasn't taken back by it. If anything, it really encouraged her to even shop more at Target.

And I reached out to Target about this policy and they have not gotten back to me in regards to that, but experts say that this policy is not something new. It's actually probably will be a continued trend. But it's also intended for lower cost items and also it's applied to customers that have that purchase history at that retailer. But again, Target isn't the only one that's doing this. Walmart, Amazon, or others as well.

- So I can't just get myself a nice new patio set and try-- all right, well, I was thinking the strategy.

SEANA SMITH: Scheming it. Yeah, I'm sure a lot of people heard that and that line of thought, hmm. So how much does it cost the retailer to take it back and to restock it?

DANI ROMERO: Yeah, and that's a really good question to think about, right? Overall. So on average from what I'm hearing it's about $30 to take it back, and that's according to retail analysts. But he also tells me that if that item costs less than $30, then it's really hard to justify whether or not, what do we do with it at the end of the day, right?

Do we put it back into the warehouse and all those other costs that come along with that as well. But like you said, you run the risk of being known as that retailer that does this policy, right? That you get to keep these items. So that's another risk that retailers really have to be careful on in regards to that, because you don't want people gaming that system.

- Rachelle has a great story of that.

SEANA SMITH: She does. Two massage chairs. Yeah. I have two toddler helmets. So certainly did not make out as well as Rachelle.

- No, Rachelle won.

SEANA SMITH: She did.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: I got-- I got a massive zero gravity massage chair. Amazon accidentally sent a second one. And they were like, oh, just keep it. I was like, OK, then, I'll somehow figure out how to keep it.

- You win.

SEANA SMITH: Have it in a couple of rooms in your house.

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