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

Started May 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP ne beginner Senior Member • Posts: 2,149
Re: Seal vs. price

Thanks, that sounds like an interesting job! My brother-in-law sold pianos when he was in grad school, which combined something he loved with earning an income. He just retired (government, not as musician), and is thinking of doing something with music. He has been playing all his life and is very good.

clarnibass wrote:

A few things re some of the posts that you and others poted...

As I mentioned I used to sell saxophones and it was normal for me to open, check each saxophone, etc. Now, if there was a seal (e.g. the nylon) and each open nylon meant the saxophone could only be sold as an "open box" at a discount, then there is no question about it, I would have to raise the prices of all new saxophones.

I understand your point. But regarding this discussion, I think you are referring to a misrepresentation made, over and over again,  by two posters.

The idea of a seal is to ensure merchants are honest about the condition of a product they are representing as being new.

New, as I have pointed out, does not mean untouched. It means not previously sold, opened, used for some period of time (as much as 30 days), returned, and then re-sold as new to an unsuspecting customer.

An item that is opened in the store, buy the dealer, to show someone, is not used. Ownership has not transferred, it has not left the dealers control, the warranty in intact.  It may have been handled, but under supervision and care of the owner, the merchant.

There are some categories of products where it is customary, even desirable, for the merchant to examine, test, perhaps even adjust, the product before delivery. Automobiles. Lawn mowers and tractors.  Products that are more hand crafted than machine made, like musical instruments.

I always buy gas powered tools from a local "mom and pop" rather than the big chains because they test and adjust - when you buy an item - and give customers a walk-through how to use it. Sure, I pay a little more than Home Depot or Lowes. But I can always go back for service and parts, or just to ask a question.  Try getting parts for a made-for-home-depot only gas trimmer, even if it has a brand name on it, 4 - 5 years after you bought it.

Bicycles at a bike shop are assembled and adjusted at the store.

Do camera bodies and lenses need to be tested before a merchant sells them? Anything need adjustment? ARE dealers doing any pre-sale testing?  I may wrong, but I believe when you buy a camera or lens, no one is opening the box to put it through it's paces ... it is just handed over to you, or put on a box and shipped.

So seals would only be broken if: 1. the dealer took it out in the store to show someone, or 2. is was sold, used, and returned.

Now, for an on-line retailer, any item received by a customer with a broken seal would be the latter, right? They don't have walk-in customers in their warehouse. Same even for B&H: they ship on-line sales from a warehouse, not their store.

So seals would keep on-line retailers honest about what they are selling. I think that would be a good thing.

For a large chain retailer, like Best Buy, they sell a limited assortment, and have demo units.  They have no reason to break a seal and open a box. They are supposed to sell returns that have been opened and used as open box specials.  Most of the time they do, but a seal make it so that the customer can be assured the item they are buying in that particular store is not a used return.

That leaves only the local full-service camera stores, which carry a broader assortment, who are most likely to break a seal in the store. So a broken seal means they either demo's the item, or it is a used return, right?

Now, an honest dealer would not sell a used item as new, even if he could make it appear as close as possible to "new" visually.  An honest dealer would offer that up as an open box.  Right?  Not only dishonest, but probably against consume protection laws in many if not most US states.

If a dealer is honest about returns, by selling them as open box, could you not also consider that dealer to be honest when they tell you a seal on a lens was opened only in the store to show someone? In that case, the item is new, not an open box return.

So it all comes down to dealers being honest with their customers about the condition of the item they are selling.

As I see it, it would only raise prices at those sellers who are no longer able to fund their liberal returns policies at the customer's expense, by misrepresenting used returns as new, and re-cycling them on unsuspecting customers.

If the same idea of the seal was "enforced" by customers for all stores, then prices of all saxophone in all stores would be higher. OTOH, the chance of a customer to get a defective one would be higher, because I wouldn't be able to check it before selling.

No, because you are selling new saxophones, not used ones. Checking them out, making adjustments, is part of the service that you are selling.  The prices wouldn't change.

But what about used ones?  Did you allow customers to "try and buy" for a few weeks, or a month, then return them?  Did you sell those as new?

I don't know if this would work the same with cameras, but it might...? Honestly I can't say if a seal would cause more or less returns overall.

It might cause less; if merchants who rely on that marketing tactic could no longer pass the returns off to unsuspecting customers as new, they might no longer be able to afford such policies. Some may have to charge a restocking fee to off-set open box discounts.  Customers who "buy an try", if they had to pay a restocking fee, might be more selective, narrowing things down before "buy and try".

But the real winner would be us, the customer.

BTW in my country it's a little different. By far most people buy at a store or used. It is relatively less common to buy online. Some people and stores are against trying at the store exactly for the same reason, they don't want to buy something for a new price unless it's completely 100% new from factory, never opened. I prefer to try at the store and I'm glad several stores have no problem with that. Stores here generally can't afford a demo model.

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