I can count the number of things that I have purchased and then later returned in my entire life on two hands.
Maybe one hand.
I know that this makes me different from most people, but especially the Germans, who like to order stuff online and then return it at a rate unmatched by other Europeans. In 2018, a whopping 53 percent of German online shoppers returned an item.
This beat out the Dutch (52 percent), French (45 percent), Spanish and Italians (43 percent) and the British (40 percent).
Even those numbers seem enormous to me.
Here in my country, about 40 percent of Americans returned an online purchase last year. More than 8 percent of all purchases made online in America were returned. That is a lot of returned merchandise, and it doesn’t even begin to include the purchases made at brick and mortar stores.
28% of all Christmas gifts in America are returned.
I can’t say that these numbers surprise me because I’ve personally witnessed the plague of the returned item. I’ve seen and known people who seem to return half of everything they ever purchase.
I find all of this a little crazy.
I can count the number of items that I have returned in my life on one or two hands for a few reasons:
I’m not terribly discerning. I have no attention for detail, so I often overlook flaws that others will see.
When it comes to clothing, there is very little variance in my wardrobe or size. I wear the same things, so when it comes time to replace clothing items, I simply purchase the same things again. My waistline may be 34 or 36 inches depending on the number of cheeseburgers I’ve eaten in a given month and I might need the extra large version of certain tee shirts because of my large neck, but that’s about all the variance I need to worry about.
I don’t concern myself with aesthetic imperfection. We purchased an outdoor grill, for example, which has a dent in it. We’re not returning the grill because it’s large and unwieldy but also because I don’t care if it has a dent. Years ago, when my brand new car was dented on day three by a child’s bike, I didn’t care because I knew the car would be dented eventually and a crease in the fender didn’t matter to me.
I always factor in the element of time when deciding if something should be returned. If I purchase a $10 item online and am dissatisfied, how long will it take me to return that item? Will I need to package it? Label it? Drive to the post office? Wait in line? It might be better in terms of time and material costs to simply trow the item away or give it away rather than return it.
Money is valuable, and $10 is not nothing, but time is our most precious commodity. That fact is always in the forefront of my mind.