BOSTON—Michelle Botus does most of her shopping online. She admits she almost never looks at an online retailer’s return policy.
“Now I’m going to start looking,” Botus said.
That’s because more online retailers are starting to charge return fees for unwanted items.
“Return shipping is not necessarily free anymore,” said Consumer World founder Edgar Dworsky. “It seems to be more stores are implementing fees now.”
According to Bloomberg, companies like Zara, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Boohoo are charging customers to send back unwanted goods. Bloomberg reports the number of large retailers requiring a return fee has jumped from 31 percent to 40 percent this year. Retail analysts said the reasons are higher inflation costs and retailers trying to maximize profits.
“We see all these stories about high return rates online,” Dworsky said.
Most shoppers don’t love the idea of having to pay to return items they don’t want.
“It’s hard to determine when you’re looking at something online and not in person,” said Chestnut Hill shopper Ginger Gainer. “You’re trying to be confident in what you’re buying and a lot of times what you get is not what you thought you ordered.”
Joan G. from Dorchester said return fees would dissuade her from shopping online.
“I would switch to going to the [brick and mortar] store instead,” she said. “If I have to pay to return something and I already paid for the thing, it doesn’t make sense. I would not be happy with that.”
Whenever possible, Dworsky recommends consumers avoid fees by returning online items in person.
“If you can buy online but return it to a branch that’s local, you’ll save on any fees,” Dworsky said.
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