HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Williams Sonoma Return Policy on Food [moved from General Topics]

I was surprised to learn yesterday that WS does not allow returns on opened food products, particularly since this is not listed anywhere on their website or receipts. Instead, per the website, it simply says "if you are not completely satisfied with a Williams-Sonoma purchase or gift for any reason, please return it for exchange or merchandise credit."

Here's what happened. In my many years of shopping at WS, I've returned two (well, now three) opened food products: some smores cookies and a bottle of oil I didn't like. I tried to take back an instant tea powder yesterday and was practically sneered at when the SA saw it had been opened. I was told that it's generally understood that you can't return opened food products anywhere, including the grocery store (which just isn't true in my area). The SA proceeded to tell me that he'd be reported by his boss and fired for doing so. In the end, after arguing about it, they took the offending item back. Frankly, if the policy is that you can't return something, then I think it should be clearly stated at the time of purchase (either in writing or verbally).

What really bothers me about this is how the SA (and later, the customer service person I spoke to on the phone) acted like returning open food is something disgusting and dangerous. It's not like I had taken a bite out of something and tried to give it back to them. Given that they've taken back items before and that other high-end establishments will take back food, I don't think I'm so out of line in asking them to take it back. Like I said, if the policy is that it's forbidden, fine, but enough with the attitude.

Any thoughts? I'm sure that most places don't take back opened food products; I just had no idea that some employees at WS found it so offensive.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. With that stated policy, I don't see how they have a leg to stand on, arguing against allowing such returns. You should have told the clerk, "no, it would be disgusting if you tried to sell it again, but that's your problem, not mine." LOL

    It would be one thing if the policy were return-for-defect, but a blanket "happiness guarantee" is what it is... and at those prices, it certainly ought to be a blanket policy.

    1. Trader Joe's will happily refund your money for any item in their store - if it had gone bad, if you didn't like it - whatever. So the W-S CS rep was wrong in saying that "it's generally understood that most opened food products cannot be returned."

      However, in W-S defense, their policy is to accept returns for merchandise credit. So you *can* return it - you just can't get your actual money back. Did you ask for your money back instead of a merch credit? That could have been the issue.

      1. I say WS is too sooty for their own good.
        We have a Lowes Foods (grocery chain, don't know where it is based) here in NC that has a 200% guarantee, which I have used twice, once for shrimp that smelled like ammonia and once for cheese that molded prematurely. The customer service desk (with or without a receipt!) will give you cash, then print a voucher that you give to the cashier for a free replacement.
        Beat that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tee

          harris teeter, bakery items stale? 200% purchase price back in cash!

        2. I had a run in with a clerk at Cost Plus last year. I bought some cocktails mixers for a party and didn't end up using them, so I returned them UNopened.

          The clerk at the register made a big deal and told me they couldn't take back food because of health issues. I pointed to their return policy posted at the register and asked her to show me where it was written. "Well it's not written, but we can't do it." O...K....

          She finally ended up calling a manager and was told, "Of course we accept food, we just can't re-shelve it for health reasons. Just throw it away."

          My impression is that ANY foods returned, opened or unopened, get written off and pitched in the trash for health reasons.

          1. I would write a letter to the company... at the very least, hopefully they will post some kind of a policy if that is the case and you can save someone from the trouble that you went through. I'm big on writing letters, both if I have a good experience and a bad experience.

            1. You should go back and ask to speak with the boss. If you're embarassed, you don't have to explain precisely why, just say that you had a negative experience with a salesperson and you'd like to speak to the manager. I'm guessing the SA was full of it and said that to get rid of you.

              1. "I was told that it's generally understood that you can't return opened food products anywhere, including the grocery store."

                It is not generally understood because that is patently false. I know many grocery stores that are more than happy to take back food that you open only to find that it is not fresh. The big Safeway in my neighborhood has had no problem me returning food that was spoiled. They are quick to apologize and offer a fresh item and thanking me for my patronage.

                That SA was blowing smoke. I am sorry you had to encounter it.

                1. Returns for "defects" are different (conceptually and broadly speaking, legally) than returns for "I don't like it." But still, I doubt there is many if any such laws for food. (In NY and probably some other states, there are such laws for alcoholic beverages.) And I do think it's perfectly reasonable for a place not to accept preference-returns, but not with a stated policy like the one quoted above.

                  1. To answer a question above, I had already selected several things to purchase, so it was, in essence, store credit I was asking for.

                    Thanks for all the replies. It's worth noting that the WS rep on the phone seemed to have the same snobby attitude as those in the store, which is why I felt a little weird about the whole thing. In the end, they did accept it for a return after stating "the customer is always right" and "we want you to be happy." But frankly, after the whole store watched our interchange for several minutes, I hardly felt like their attitude was to keep the customer happy. A simple, "I'm sorry, it's our policy not to accept opened food products for return" would have sufficed.

                    1. I wouldn't bother to write a letter or call, but I imagine the WS website has a feedback area and given the stated policy, I think this warrants a little snippiness from you in return... If they don't want to accept food returns, their policy should say as much - it's not like their a little m&p operation without a legal department after all...

                      1 Reply
                      1. If you accurately stated the WS return policy, then they had no right to pull the stunt they tried on you. They had an obligation to take it back -- even if it was perfect and you simply decided you didn't want it. Indeed, with the lofty prices charged by WS, this would be an expected perk.

                        In most of North America, retailers are free to refuse returns, though this can get problematic when something doesn't do what it is supposed to do. If they say they'll take anything back based on satisfaction, they have no excuse not to do so, whether they can resell the item or not.

                        1. I never knew you could return something simply because you didn't like the product.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Monica

                            You can't as a matter of right, but you can if the vendor unequivocally guarantees your satisfaction without stating any conditions. If the vendor refuses, their "guarantee" is fraudulent.

                            1. re: embee

                              And with food it's so subjective. Does the grocer really want to taste those baby carrots or walnuts to determine if they are "off"? Easier to have a policy where you accept all returns, very few people will bother with foodstuff anyway.

                            2. re: Monica

                              I find it quite surprising that anyone would take something back to a store just because they didn't like it. Chalk it up to experience and throw it out or give it to someone who would like it.

                            3. On a slightly diff experience...My brief gig as a demonstrator for WS ended when they insisted opened jars used for customer sampling be re-used til empty..unsanitary, and I ultimately refused.

                              Altho I will shop there, I will NEVER taste the samples.

                              A reputable establishment would accept legit returns.

                              1. It's probably more to do with the fact that the refund would count "against" the person who took it, and not the original sales person, so no-one wants to be the one to take it back.


                                1. Although I had not opened the bottle, I had difficulty in getting WS to give me a refund on a newly purchased bottle of olive oil that was several months past its "pull date". They tried (in a condescending fashion) to tell me that "its sure to be okay for a quite a while past the pull date" until I LOUDLY proclaimed that they should be able to master the art of product rotation so that customers were not sold old, potentially rancid merchandise.

                                  Their condescending attitude suddenly melted away, and I was given the refund. I am a nice guy in 99.9% of the situations that I encounter, but when merchants try to be condescending or to avoid their responsibilities, I will be sure to allow the other customers in the store to be aware of what is going on. As was demonstrated in this particular WS, bad publicity is not good for business, and will usually cause a merchant to do the right thing.

                                  1. This isn't really a return problem, so much as a customer service issue.

                                    Last week I ordered the WS Turkey Brine (a jar of seasonings used to marinate a turkey) in anticipation of Thanksgiving. It arrived yesterday. I decided to check out the instructions, as I have never brined a turkey before. Anyway, the instructions on the jar say to add 3 cups of the mix (720g) to water....and so on (this is for UP TO a 20 lb. turkey). Well, the jar itself only contains 517g of mix - about a 1/3 less than what the actual recipe calls for! Nowhere on the site (I re-read it) did it say 2 jars would be needed - besides, what's the point of that? Then you'd have too much.

                                    Anyway, I called the customer service line and they were dumbfounded. They read the instructions they had on their ever-reliable computers (NOT!) and while the wording on the instructions they had were almost identical, it said to use ONE JAR of seasonings, not 720g. I offered to fax them a copy of the label itself, as they put me on the offensive and made me feel like I was trying to rip them off for a free jar of seasonings. The stupid thing cost me $16.95, and for that, it should be the correct amount for what the recipe calls for.

                                    After being put on hold on & off for almost 20 minutes and talking to TWO supervisor, they finally offered to send me another jar at no cost. It was so aggrevating and frustrating! I just hope others that order this product read the instructions first (and early!) and realize that the amount is inadequate.

                                    1. Update Info Re: WS Return Policy - from their website: "If you are not completely satisfied with a Williams-Sonoma purchase or gift for any reason, please return it for exchange or merchandise credit; refund checks will be issued only for items purchased by cash. Refund checks are unavailable to registrants for registry gifts. You may return Williams-Sonoma merchandise at any Williams-Sonoma store or by mail. The following policies apply to all returns:

                                      Returns with the original purchase receipt will be exchanged or refunded in the original tender.
                                      Returns with a gift receipt, including gift-registry returns, will be exchanged or refunded for the value indicated on the gift receipt in the form of a merchandise credit.
                                      Returns without the original purchase receipt, including gift-registry returns, will be exchanged or refunded at the current selling price in the form of a merchandise credit. "

                                      I always insist on a refund and prefer to shop at places that acknowledge their own policy w/o making you fight for it. Shame on the people working in these establishments who have the power to be nerds!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: foodinsite

                                        On the topic of Open Food...does anyone know off-hand about Walmarts policy on returning open-food items???
                                        We bought a thing of Edy's and a Freschetta Pizza there the other day. The ice cream tasted strange and the pizza was freezerburnt or just didn't taste fresh for some reason (Whether it was the Walmart Freezer or maybe it sat out in the store, I don't know)
                                        But there was maybe 3 bites taken from the ice cream and 2 slices from the pizza between me and my partner (about half of it)

                                        1. re: BaltimoreBoi15

                                          Returns on those items should be no problem at all since you are dealing with good companies. Wal-Mart might be a zoo right now because of a lot of after-Holiday returns and you might have long lines to stand in but they're very good about returns. I have found that having your receipt at Wal-Mart makes things go much easier as with most stores.

                                          Food companies are generally extremely responsive if you still have the original packaging. I've called them with complaints (as well as compliments) and they've issued coupons for full replacement value of the item and often for some additional freebies too. When I didn't want the "nasty stuff" again, I've gotten checks back from them. You can usually find 800-phone numbers on the packaging. I think this beats standing in line at the grocery store any day.
                                          BTW, the reason they need the original packaging is that they really are concerned that there might be some quality control problems if they get a bunch of complaints about a product, whether it's their fault or with a particular retailer's handling of their products. The people who've answered the phones have always been really nice.

                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            i also call the companies on their custo svc. toll-free #s. agree with making sense.

                                      2. Emily, it is totally not true that grocery stores won't take food back after it's been opened. First, how else could you tell it's spoiled or stale whatever is wrong with it? Second, my son worked as front end assistant in a supermarket when he was in school and told stories of customers bringing back a big beef roast 75% eaten and saying they wanted their money back as the meat was so terrible---store policy was to return money no matter what. This was a big chain supermarket so I imagine the policy extends beyond that store. And I have never had a food return refused anywhere. Forget that snot in one WS store: write a letter to the company, citing the website or catalog claim if it's different from your experience and requesting a reply.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          I have never had a problem with returning opened food to a supermarket, so I imagine Walmart would be equally accommodating.

                                          William Sonoma 'used' to have an outstanding return policy -- any product for the life of the product as long as you have a receipt -- but I believe they've changed it.

                                        2. Maybe I'm just too old. The thought of returning food to a store because of dislike is, well, ... disturbing. I have nearly always been able to give the food items I didn't like to a friend or family member who did like it. What I couldn't give to someone else went into the garbage and I simply would not buy that item again.
                                          In the rare instances where I have purchased something (food) that was defective, I have contacted the manufacturer directly and received a coupon or voucher for replacement.

                                          1. Generally, retail stores are required to allow returns of defective products- i.e. food that is bad, rotten, rancid etc. As to food that you just don't like- I do not think that they have any obligation to accept a return and I can;t imagine that they would take it back, except for customer service reasons. i would never return a food item just because it was not to my taste.

                                            1. Returning food you do not like is wrong. When did a grocery store turn into Costco giving out free samples. Now people want to take a full size home, take a test drive and if they do not like it just bring it back? If there is something wrong with the product, then absolutely they should take it back, i.e. chicken that has turned or sour milk.

                                              If WS has a blanket policy then that is what they have. But there is a sense of right and wrong in play. If you buy something, it is delivered as peomised and you just do not like it, then it should not be the seller's risk. Everyone needs to be a little more adult and take responsibilites for their own buying decisions.

                                              17 Replies
                                              1. re: jfood

                                                Jfood- I completely agree with you!

                                                It's not an "age-thing" either... there is a certain level of risk associated in trying new things! Whether that is a new type of ice cream, or a new bread or even a new salsa- as a consumer/purchaser you are assuming the inherent risk that the product might be sucky.

                                                I completely understand returning fish that has gone bad. However, returning a food-product because "you didn't like it" is a very very foreign concept to me! I don't care if you buy something at WS or at Wal-mart. You bought it- you assumed the risk.

                                                Just my thoughts!

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  Well-put as usual, jfood.

                                                  Here's to maturity and responsibility!

                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                    Idunno, jfood. In general I agree with you, and absolutely would not return a food item to most stores just because I didn't like it. But the crew at my local Trader Joe's seems to have adopted a mantra of "try it, and if you don' t like it we'll give you your money back." Under those circumstances, how could it be wrong to return a food item you don't like?

                                                    Seems to me that Williams Sonoma falls toward the same end of the spectrum as Trader Joe's. WS (1) has a blanket "satisfaction guaranteed" policy (2) sells a number of food items that are unusual and/or exclusive to their stores, and (3) prices its inventory at levels that have plenty of margin built in. Whether this makes the return of open unspoiled food items fair game is debatable, but I don't think that a bright-line rule that such returns are never appropriate works, either.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      "try it, and if you don' t like it we'll give you your money back."

                                                      Do they? I didn't know that. What a cool policy. I'll have to frequent them more often.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        Yes TJ's does have that policy and in fact when jfood had a nice discussion with the Regional VP earlier this year he actually reiterated that policy.

                                                        But jfood is not a goniff. And he is willing to pay for his mistakes, and he is in a position to do such. Likewise his "family owned" grocer that he shops at regularly also has such a policy and jfood would NEVER think of taking money out of their pockets for him to try something. Jfood sleeps well at night and he would not feel right taking advantage of such a nice policy.

                                                        Yes it's their policy to allow, but it's jfood's policy not to. Just does not feel right in the belly.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          Thank you, jfood. I owned small retail in the past and returns for "just didn't like it" were a real problem. Of course we took it back but had to eat the loss. The stuff wasn't defective so it couldn't go back to the manufacturer (which takes staff time and shipping costs.) Had been opened or used so we couldn't sell it. There wasn't anything "wroooong" with it, the customer had just changed their mind or something.Friends in clothing retail have had people return things that they've actually worn and then get insulted if the clerks say something.

                                                          It seems that stores like TJ's and others that have such liberal return policies set patterns that they can afford that the rest of can't, and it really harms the kinds of small shops that people always say they want.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Whoa, let's not start calling people dishonest or unethical for this behavior. We are talking about a company that sells items at a healthy markup. WS is not a mom and pop grocery, or even a locally owned business. I do believe their pricing takes into account their liberal return policy, and the OP was not unethical or even dishonest to return an opened food item expecting store credit. I understand having standards, but I believe you're being uncharitable in your assessment of her character here.

                                                            1. re: amyzan

                                                              jfood just thinks it's wrong. Others will disagree, as they have, and that's OK, but if jfood makes a decision to buy something and does not like it he does not look to others to pay for his mistakes, Wal-Mart, WF, WS, TJ or Tony's Luncheonette. And jfood understands this policy. Likewise he does not carry a McDonald's cup in his car and use it for weeks of free re-fills even though McD has unlimited refills.

                                                              Why should the ownership at WS be any different from a Mom & Pop. They both have owners who suffer from this. Either it is wrong, full stop, as jfood believes, or it is OK from the biggest to the smallest. And jfood sides with the former. Just a philosophical difference.

                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                All I'm saying is these people who have different standards don't deserve to be called cheats, whether at CH or elsewhere. Philosphical differences are fine, name calling is not.

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  IMHO the philosophical difference is over the question of whether the same rule should apply to every vendor. While I agree that your rule applies in most circumstances, I just can't get my head around your opinion that it's wrong to return an unliked item to a business that encourages its customers to do so.

                                                                  The owners of those businesses have made a conscious decision to allow such returns. Presumably this policy is based upon their perception that doing so will increase profits by an amount greater than the losses caused by the returns. Abusing the policy would certainly be wrong, but an honest person should be able to avail him/herself of this "service" without being called unethical.

                                                                  Sure, the owner has to pay for the inventory that has to get tossed. Just like when an online vendor offers free shipping, the owner has to pay to deliver the goods to the customer. But these costs are built into the business model. If returning a disliked item to a vendor that encourages such returns is wrong because it cuts into the owner's profit, then there's also an ethical obligation to insist on paying extra shipping every time we order something from Amazon. I don't think so.

                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes


                                                                    Correct. The store has made a decision to allow such behavior. Likewise jfood has made a decision how he runs his "business" and has made a totally different decision. Since jfood thinks it is wrong to let others pay for his mistakes, he lives with his decision, irrespective of the counter-party's decision.

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      The "honesty" called for here might be for the OP to admit that she's too picky to purchase food this way. After all, this is the third time she has returned a food product to W-S simply because she didn't like it.

                                                                      Have you ever known anyone who has gotten a food product into a major catalogue? Hard as hell. They have to jump through hoops of quality control and guarantees of supply and freshness. It's worth it because the catalogue buys a huge quantity based on their assessment that this is a quality product that their customers will love - and buy - and they do.
                                                                      The OP is the rare person who doesn't like it out of 10s of 1000s of happy consumers. OK. But it keeps happening. Three times now. When does it start to be abusive?

                                                                      Why does she keep buying food from W-S if she knows that she has been unhappy with their products in the past? Obviously their taste differs from hers. She should find a store she's happy with.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        Alan, it seems as though an economic decision on the part of WS and the OP (and others of us who believe that it is a value neutral idea to follow the written and / or stated policies of stores like WS) is being confused with a decision that falls into the domain of morality. It's neither right nor wrong to take a store at their written promise.

                                                                        Clearly WS believes that having a policy such as the one under discussion here benefits their bottom line. Both because they want to:

                                                                        a) Encourage people to try things that they may be doubtful / unsure about, but will buy them knowing that they can return the item if it's not to their "liking"


                                                                        b) Having figured out that a generous approach to customer service makes those customers comfortable in doing business with their company, (despite what some might see as having a high markup - which clearly pays for these types of returns) and happy repeat customers makes for a good business model.

                                                                        I see that the OP says that she has purchased from WS multiple times over many years, during which she had returned only three items for the stated reason of "not liking" them.

                                                                        On top of that she wasn't looking for cash back, but was rather getting other products in the place of the returned items for a "store credit". Not exactly your "picky problem customer" by any stretch of ones imagination.

                                                                        WS undoubtedly knows that many people will buy items that they don't end up really liking, but that these customers will not go the trouble of returning those items to WS, for either store credit or cash back.

                                                                        It reminds me of the "rebate" business model. Companies know that a certain percentage of customers will not bother to do what is required of them to claim their cash rebate.

                                                                        The rebate is offered without any moral precept. It's a straight forward business proposition. Those that find the UPC, successfully fill out the required paperwork, and submit it properly will get their cash rebate.

                                                                        Those that don't contribute to an increased profit margin for that particular company. Not a "right or wrong" decision, but rather an economic decision by the customer, based on what their time and effort is worth to them.

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          Your argument is well-reasoned as far as goes. But commerce is a two-way street and the consumer has responsibilities as well.
                                                                          There are many policies which stores once had that were abused and have been discontinued. Free parking - and then people used it while they did their shopping elsewhere. People wrote checks which bounced. Returns without receipts and people tried to return things from other stores. Returns months after purchases of out-of-season merchandise. Returns of clearly used or customer-damaged merchandise. Free gift wrap that cost more than the $2 sale purchase. On and on...

                                                                          The fair use of return policies is OK but abuses can only be absorbed by retailers for so long before costs have to be passed on to other honest consumers. Somebody pays in the end.
                                                                          Consumers have a responsibility to behave ethically and when they don't, they force others to pay for their behavior, either by increased prices or having a policy discontinued.

                                                                    2. re: amyzan

                                                                      I don't think that jfood implied that the OP was either "unethical or dishonest" in returning a food product simply because she didn't happen to like it particularly well. There wasn't anything wrong with it. She just didn't like the flavor of an instant tea powder. Personal preference.
                                                                      This is a matter of taking personal responsibility for your own decisions to spend your money. A movie might be good but you didn't like it. It might rain the weekend you go to the beach. A restaurant meal upsets your stomach. Something all your friends adore doesn't taste very good to you.

                                                                      There is no right in life that someone out there will always make your life perfect. Ethical vendors sell the best quality they can for the price. If it's defective, they want to know, and will take care of the problem.
                                                                      If you expect everything in life to be perfectly to your liking, that's bratty.

                                                                2. re: jfood

                                                                  totally with you on this one Jfood, try it at your own peril, unless the food is spoiled, past the sell by date. I am no different at a restaurant, just because I don't like a combination or a flavour, if the food is fine I wouldn't dream of sending it back. I chose it so I shut up.

                                                                  If someone is fussy they should stick to foods they know they would like. Why should a business take something back that is perfectly good but not to your liking.

                                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                                    Companies do this to encourage us to try new things that we may, or may not like, betting that most of us won't return them no matter what. It's simply another twist on merchandising / advertising. And they do it, knowing full well some of us return it, and they are fine about it, because in the final analysis their number crunchers have determined that they make a greater profit using this sales technique, rather than not using it.

                                                                3. I work part time at WS.....and the way you were treated was wrong. First of all, the associate should not have argued with you. Secondly, that person would NEVER have been fired for taking a product back. Maybe I work at a really good one, but we have been instructed via our store manager and our Regional Director to do whatever it takes to make the customer leave happy. This has ranged from taking back everything and anything that has been returned (like items that were years old and pans that have clearly been abused) to calling other stores like Sur La Table when we don't carry or don't have an item a customer needs. I can remember a story I was told when I was hired about an associate who once gave a customer a hard time about a return concerning a toaster. She had went out to dinner one night with Chuck Williams and the CEO Howard Lester and they pretty much told her that it is silly to lose a customer over a toaster. Bottom line, you were right, the employee was wrong.

                                                                  1. I worked at WS back around 1997-2002. They have had a very loose and accomadating return policy. I had no idea it was changed. I continue to shop there and will spend more because of it.

                                                                    1. I've tried replying to this before and it was removed so I'm gonna keep it short and simple. I still work for WS part time. The employee who did that was out of line and against company policy and should be removed. At the same time, IMHO, I would never think of returning food simply because I did not like it.

                                                                      1. I too had replied on this thread previously and it was deleted. I completely agree with what jfood and others have said - returning something simply because you don't like it is not something I would do. IMHO, you accept a certain amount of responsibility when you purchase something new. Obviously if it's rotten or spoiled, you have every right to a refund, but just because you decided you didn't like the taste? That's just part of the deal. We aren't going to like everything we put in our mouths, people, and to expect a vendor - ANY vendor, whether it's a mom and pop or a huge corporate conglomerate - to pay for our personal taste just isn't logic to which I personally subscribe.

                                                                        1. Returning something because it was past the "use before" or "best before" date at the moment of purchase isn't to me (or my grocery store) a problem.
                                                                          I've returned things very very occasionally when I've, for example, come home with 2 cartons of milk only to find that DH had bought 2 cartons on his way home. Immediately returned to our wonderful grocery store, no problem at all. Or when DH purchases the wrong item, by mistake, such a a big box of Shreddies vs Shredded Wheat. Return is swift, packaging unopened, never a problem.
                                                                          I've never returned anything because I didn't like it after I tried it. Wouldnt occur to me to do so.
                                                                          Strange to do that, IMHO....

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: freia

                                                                            even the mistakes seem a bit odd to me freia - if you both bought milk I'm not sure why the store should take it back, they are likely to throw it out as they can't possibly resell it now as they don't know how you stored it. Why not just freeze the milk? They may have also thrown out the box of shredded wheat. I don't see why the store should take a hit for shoppers' errors.

                                                                            The only reason that I can go with is if the food is bad , past the sell by date, or has bugs in it. There are gazillions of items on the supermarket shelves and it's my responsibility to decide before I buy it whether we would like it at home or if I have a use for it. For example I bought a toilet cleaner that is useless but I'm not going to return it, I just won't buy it again.

                                                                            1. re: smartie

                                                                              We have a great local grocery store (living in a small town) and returns like this have never been an issue. Im not sure what they do with the products but I know I don't force the issue and the store is happy to take the return, so I really think its a non issue from my POV here in my small town at the least.
                                                                              I find it interesting that you question why a store is being "forced" to take a hit from shopper error. I certainly don't set store policy. There are no laws in our city or province stating that stores must have this sort of food return policy. They certainly aren't obliged to accept the return, and I certainly don't make a scene about it, that's for sure. The store chooses its return policy, and I have used their return policy without issue. I just go to the customer service desk, say that we unfortunately made a purchase in error and it gets handled. I've done this when I could have SWORN I picked up Cream of Tomato soup and when I get home I have Beef Broth in my grocery bag. And it doesn't happen often, but I DO heart my grocery store. If they ever said "our policy has changed and we don't take returns" I would be absolutely fine with that.
                                                                              No one is forcing anyone to do anything: the grocery store chooses this return policy and I choose to follow its policy. And seriously, if they stopped it, I can guarantee you that prices would NOT be lowered to reflect the store policy change,
                                                                              I'm happy to live in a small town where stores like this still exist!

                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                I totally understand bringing back a can when it's the wrong one, the store can restock it and sell it, but fresh things like milk are going to be thrown away. They can have whatever policy they like but that doesn't mean I think it's ok to return items that I didn't like just for the sake of it. Off, bad, buggy, over or under ripe, wrong sell by date, soggy, moldy - I don't see a problem but just because we didn't like it doesn't sit well with me.

                                                                                A lot of stores have samples - cheeses, crackers, dips, cooked meats to try. If I think I might not like something it's my choice to splurge on the off chance nobody will like it at home but I just don't see why a store should have to take it back.

                                                                                What if I buy a shower gel and hate the smell once I get home, or a shampoo makes my hair feel dry? I would either give it someone or throw it out. If I try a powdered tea at WS like the OP and we didn't like it then oh well my loss. I just don't believe it should be the store's loss.

                                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                                  Actually, I never said I returned items because I didn't like the smell or the taste. In fact, I specifically said I never did this.
                                                                                  I said that occasionally, if I bought a wrong product (ie thought I picked Cream of Tomato soup but wound up with something else) or if our family has accidentally double purchased something, I return a mis-purchased item immediately and in accordance with my grocery store return policy.
                                                                                  I don't see an issue with this.

                                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                                    I see no problem with any of that. I also see no problem with returning items that you buy on spec that you other wise wouldn't purchase (and you do so specifically because of the stores liberal return policy) and end up not liking it. The store has this type of policy in effect to promote the practice of trying new items. By ignoring their policy and never returning things because you don't like them you are less likely to branch out and try something new. Therefore you are actually undoing the stores policy (in place to positively affect their bottom line) and causing them to lose business. Counter intuitiveness strikes again! ;-D>

                                                                          2. Yikes! I have never had an issue returning food (opened or unopened) to a market or larger chain store. Most places never even ask why. I've even returned an over ripe watermelon to Costco that was missing a slice.
                                                                            It's great PR for the store. They want us back and realize there is a lot of competition out there.