Some companies offering online refunds without sending items back

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Posted at 12:50 PM, Feb 04, 2021

With more people shopping online, companies are having to revamp how they handle some returns. In fact, more businesses are refunding customers without even getting items back.

“Companies can't handle this level of returns,” said Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet. “It's very expensive for them to process all of these returns. So, they're looking for alternatives. So, what we're hearing more and more is retailers saying, ‘instead of mailing back this item, please donate it or even toss it if an item arrives to you and it's damaged at all.’”

It all boils down to value. Does it make sense for a company to possibly cover shipping and repackaging for something big that's damaged, or something small and inexpensive?

Instead, they may just tell you to toss or donate the item, and still refund your money. But don't think this is something people can take advantage of very often.

“So, you really can't fool them or trick them into stealing items, because once you have made a number of returns, they can blacklist you for making further returns, so it's not a way of just getting items for free, you want to be honest,” said Palmer. “And you might have to show proof that you've made that donation too, so you have to keep track of all of your receipts.”

Palmer says some companies are offering the chance to donate or throw away unwanted items up front, but it doesn't hurt to ask either.

One thing you want to make sure you do on any item you buy online is to keep the packaging in case you have to send it back. It saves you money, so you don't have to buy new packaging.