Liberal Return Policies vs. "has my camera been used?": A way to Solve This

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
ne beginner
Senior MemberPosts: 2,008Gear list
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Re: Just another nail in their coffin
In reply to Marty4650, 4 months ago

Thanks Marty, got it.

Marty4650 wrote:

ne beginner wrote:

Marty4650 wrote:

In my view, the real solution is to allow returns for defects only, and not for "I changed my mind."

So the B&M ... Buy and try might be the only advantage they have left, but it will drive their costs even higher. This is a no win situation for them.

These two comments seem to at odds. I'm sure I'm misunderstanding you. Can you elaborate a little? You have made a lot of great points, I'd like to understand this better.

What I stated was a paradox. The B&M store can have a substantial advantage over online vendors by having the most generous return policies. But, if they do this, they will only drive their costs even higher, creating another disadvantage for them.

Agree.

So either way, they lose.

Suppose factory seals forced on-line retailers to end the buy and try game, because they could only sell the returns as open box with discount? Or make is so that they had to increase their on-line prices to off-set the buy and try, if they decided to continue that?

Perhaps not much, but a small step in favor of B&M's. B&M's can you try in the store, which an in-line can't. With the customer in the store, the B&M has chance at least to sell their service, and win some customers over. Especially for hobbyists and people learning. I was willing to pay a bit more for that.

I really think the B&M camera shop is headed fast for extinction. Much like the bookstores, record shops, and other specialty shops you used to see at your local mall. There are just way too many advantages for online vendors:

  • in many cases... no sales tax, creating a buyer's incentive
  • much lower payroll costs
  • complete automation of sales, no commissions to pay
  • much lower rent cost per item sold
  • much better prices from suppliers, due to volumes
  • much larger inventories

Yes, I agree. This has effected, and is effecting in new ways everyday, almost every industry.

Would a very liberal return policy negate all of the above? I doubt it, since most buyers don't need a "no questions asked" return policy. The only buyers who actually need this are the buy and try crowd, and those are customers who actually cost YOU money. So why would you do anything to attract more of them?

Yes, and I think we see a higher percentage of those people are this site, so it appears that the % of buy and try is much higher than it really is.. What are a minority to begin with, a small universe, and at the same time a concentration or people avid enough to visit, read, and post on all things related to photography.

I knew it was over for B&M camera shops the day I tried to buy a very popular DSLR from them, and the salesman said "we don't have it in stock, but I can order one for you." I thought, "I can order it myself, and save $100." So unless they can keep a full inventory in stock, they even lose the advantage of "impulse purchases."

Uncanny ... exactly what prompted me to take on change on-line, with B&H.

Naturally, there will always be a few huge B&M stores in the largest cities. The stores that cater to specialty markets and professional photographers. In might interest you to know that B&H in Manhattan sells an awful lot of pro video and pro audio gear, since there is a substantial industry there.

Around me there we two non-chain camera stores. One tried focusing on the soccer mom & dad crowd, with all printing from digital, both normal prints as well as calendars, greeting cards, posters, frames, etc. They just closed. The other always had a good pro business, both DSL and video. They are all pro video now, as well as custom home theater and audio. Geared towards businesses and contractors, not a place an off the street customer walks into.

But the Ritz Camera, or mom and pop camera small store business plan is in real trouble today. They are all struggling, barely keeping their heads above water.

The very last thing they need is to cultivate customers who buy cameras, try them out, then return them,

Now here's a cheap shot Marty, I am disappointed:

so folks like you can demand deep discounts and label them as unethical if they don't cut the price.

First, it is, at the very least, unethical to re-sell a used item as new to an unsuspecting customer.

If an item has been sold, ownership has changed, and it has left the store and the merchant's control.  The mfg.'s warranty may have changed. If it has been opened, it has been used to some degree. In most if not nearly all cases, the merchant has no idea of how much use has taken place, under what conditions.

There are reasonable expectations anyone has when buying a product that is positioned as "new" from a merchant. Is that fair? Should "buyer be aware" now be applied to new as well as used products?

From a manufacturer's perspective, I do not want my consumers wondering of "new" really means "new".  Or think a poorly re-packed return, with dog-eared cardboard flaps, misaligned stickers, smudges, dust, missing accessories, etc., is how my product is manufactured and served up.

Manufacturers spend a lot of money and time on their packaging, from factory to retail shelf,  to ensure that it meets the consumers expectations, first when they are handed it in the store, and at home when they open it up and hold it in their hands.

A merchant who carefully re-pacts a return so he can pass if off as new, then randomly sells it as new to unsuspecting customers, who are under the impression that they are buying a new item, is deceiving the customer.

The severity of this deception goes up when that merchant does not have the technical equipment, nor factory trained technicians, to comprehensively test that item to ensure it is in 100% new working condition.

All I am saying is that if a merchant checks this return out, and feels it is OK to sell, it should be identified as "open box". The merchant is free to sell it at new prices if he wants, and the customer is free to not want an open box. But the customer knows it has been used, and both parties are free to negotiate a fair price.

Second, this has nothing to do with in-store demo's. Those items have not been sold, never left the merchants control, and may have been handled a few times,  carefully. These are not "open box", unless perhaps they are the store's demo units and have been handled extensively, or a part has gone missing.  No need a discount. Some customers may want a sealed box; others may not not care. So what?

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