Buyer’s remorse often sounds like a cliché but in reality it is anything but. In fact, instead of calling it ‘buyer’s remorse’ perhaps it should be called ‘buyers nightmare in returning goods’. Some shops make it relatively easy to return unwanted or faulty goods. Others, however, make you jump through hoops to get your money back or to even get an exchange. I think the idea around making it tough to get a refund or exchange is not to discourage rash purchases but to discourage people from going through the entire difficult return processes. That means that the shop still makes a sale and the buyer gets used or forgets about the unwanted item.
Before the internet and online buying people bought things through catalogues. There were quite a few back in those days and people mainly bought clothes and shoes. It was a little bizarre that people had the courage to buy things without trying them on but they did and I am one of them. The problem with buying things that way was, and still is, that you can’t try it on for size or fitting. Trousers were often too high at the waist or too long in length. Blouses were often badly fitting at the shoulder so you ended up not being able to move or raise your arms at all. Moreover, often the item was not at all how they were shown on the model and, don’t forget, the same size varies from brand to brand. If you’re a size 16 in one brand, for example, you might actually be a 14 in another. The same applies to shoes. Not all size categorisations are uniform across brands for any items. Nor is the colouring. As an artist I can tell you that an ultramarine blue paint, for example, in one brand is not the same tone as in another brand and the same applies to the colour of shoes and clothes. It is for this reason buying without trying has huge drawbacks. In the early 80s returning an item involved repacking it and taking it to the local post office and then waiting for the refund, in the form of a cheque, to come through the post.
Buyer’s remorse, however, is still prevalent today but for different reasons. People are still buying clothes and shoes online but, to cover themselves for buying the wrong size or colour, people are now resorting to buying multiples of the same items. Multiples in colour and multiples in sizes. It’s as though people are bringing the shop to their homes so they can try them all on for size and colour. The only weird thing about this is that now buyers don’t mind paying for all the various sizes and colours and then returning those that do not fit in the hope that they’d get a refund as quickly as they paid for them. Many are finding, though, that returning is fairly straightforward but getting a refund is not so easy. According to the online shops, they now have a huge backlog of returns most of which they have been unable to process because of the massive amount of…backlogs!
These backlogs seem to have built up over the Christmas period when some countries went into a lockdown so people, who would have preferred to shop in person, couldn’t do their Christmas shopping the normal way. So online shopping surged with people buying all their Christmas presents without physically seeing or trying them on first. Some of those that they gave as presents were returned by the recipients because they did not fit or the colour wasn’t what they thought it would be. But one month after Christmas Day is over, most are still waiting for their refunds. The unwanted goods are no longer in their possession but neither is their money. How long they will have to wait is all down to the online shops who claim to have huge backlogs of returns to process, that’s on top of the normal returns, and we are now past mid-February.
I think online shopping is a terrible idea. Sometimes even the description and specification of the item can be wrong or misleading. Even if you’re buying an electronic item or a hairbrush or art supplies you really don’t know what you’re getting…until you get it and then it’s a case of the waiting game.