Merchandise Return Fraudsters


 I love when technology smokes out a dishonest person, and stops him from cheating someone.    Even petty crime can get out of hand and sooner or later someone, or something should step in and take control.  I don’t believe in cruelty but there has to be punishment so the person gets the idea that it’s not worth it to do the crime.

To illustrate my point I remember last year when a guy ahead of me in the customer service line at Target got away with a crooked deal.  He manipulated customer service into refunding cash on an old and abused piece of merchandise – in other words it was not an honest return.  I knew it, the customer service rep knew it and the other people waiting in line knew it too!  But the guy put up a nasty fuss, and customer service ended up “refunding” cash just to make him go away.  This was an injustice to the store.  One hundred years ago it would have been perfectly acceptable for the store owner to punch him in the nose.  At times, I miss those days.


 I’m sure you’ve seen it — someone tries to return something that obviously isn’t returnable like old clothes or something they purchased last decade.  They’re cheating a store out of money, not to mention the time they waste for everyone else who is there to do a legitimate transaction.  It’s just not a straight up deal.

Well today in Target I had a completely opposite experience, thanks to technology.  But I’ll get into that in a minute.

I remember another time, in a different store someone tried to return an item that the store didn’t even sell!  I wondered if the person even knew she was guilty of fraud.

Most stores have a 90-day return policy, and they like it if you present the receipt and price tag.  But even if you don’t, most reputable stores will refund your money.  That’s good news for me because I don’t keep receipts and as you’ve probably figured out I’ve been known to return a thing or two.

Another shameless scam attempt happened a while ago when I was in a department store waiting in line.  That store has great sales – up to 80% off.  They don’t give refunds on 80% off items, but they’ll give a store credit.  So the lady ahead was returning something and she wanted her money back.  Her item had no tag, no receipt and she insisted that she had paid $80 for it.  I think it was a skirt and it took the clerk a long time looking through inventory records to determine the price of that item.  In the end she determined the style had been moved into the 80% off category, and that was more than 90 days ago.  So no matter how she sliced it, that customer was not getting any money back on that item.  Rather than go home with her unwanted merchandise, she admitted that she really only spent $8 and opted for a store credit.  The poor girl didn’t have the luxury of experiencing the correct emotion at that time, but that was okay because everyone else in line felt her embarrassment for her.

It must get interesting for customer service reps.  I bet they get really good at reading people after a while.  Still, the really clever swindler probably gets away with these petty crimes all the time and no one ever finds out.  I guess some people are just dedicated to pulling a fast one.  The honest onlooker must take care to not become too cynical.

Anyway this leads me to what I wanted to comment on.  I love the current system at Target.  I went there today to return something.  This time it was a media cover.  I was in a Gothic mood when I bought it, but before I used it, the mood had passed.  After two weeks, still no Goth, so today I brought it back to Target.  And true to form, I didn’t have a receipt but I did still have the price tag.  No problem.  The lady asked me how I paid for it.  I wasn’t sure but I gave her a credit card and she tried it.  “Not that one.”  Cool.  It took all of two seconds to determine that.

“Must be this one,” I said and handed her my other bank card, and up came the history of my verified purchase that matched the media cover in my hand.  And just like that the money was back in my account and she was wishing me a good day.   This simple transaction brought me a significant amount of happiness.  With this system, I could just see the merchandise refund fraudsters being stopped dead In their tracks within seconds.

This is how I see justice rolling out in a sci fi society, which is where my writing ideas generate.  It goes like this:  A scammer is detected, “F” for fraud attempt is stamped on her forehead in 30-day indelible ink, and a computer voice says, “Step away from the register.  Move along.  Move along.”  Those words are reserved for the fraudster only, like the incessant beeping at the doors when someone tries to steal something.  Maybe that would be enough punishment for her to reconsider her petty crime next time the urge strikes.

Justice.  Quick, fair, and effective is a wonderful thing.

Christina Moss

©2013 Christina Moss.  I’m the author of five science fiction & fantasy novels: Intwine, Insight, Incircle, Inviral, and Vampire of My Dreams.  Leave a comment and follow me here by subscribing to my blog.  Also check out the LINKS page on my website to follow me on Twitter and more:  http://www.christinamoss.com/LINKS.html


7 thoughts on “Merchandise Return Fraudsters

  1. Rena Mottl says:

    I spend a lot of time in COSTCO and see these Fraudsters a LOT. It is sooooo annoying. 2 years ago, two ladies stood in front of my booth discussing which piece of my merchandise they would wear at a party that night and then had the gall to also discuss how they would return it the next day! Return it they did. Unfortunately, I was not there and so didn’t say anything.

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