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Are we 'entitled' to return foods we didn't like to the store?

There's a thread running in Chains at the moment about disappointing Costco purchases and there are quite a few discussions suggesting that if you don't like something you should take it back for a refund.

Not when something is obviously broken, bad, infested, already open or moldy that sort of thing but if you purely did not like the food product and have opened it and tasted it is it realistic for the store to accept an item back and give you a refund? Once at Publix I saw a shopper return a half eaten packet of cookies 'because we didn't like them'. Are we not responsible for making choices in a supermarket that our family or ourselves may not like when we get it home? That hummus was too garlicky, sauce too sweet, curry too spicey, pie too gloopy.

Should the onus be on we the shopper to take risks or on the market to give us our money back because we bought something on a whim that is not to our taste?

My personal opinion is that if you buy something you have not tried before and nobody likes it it's not the store's fault. That product cannot be resold so it's not like bringing back a bookshelf or chair that doesn't suit your house.

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  1. No.

    Hard to believe it's really worth the time and effort to get those few bucks back. I would have to be awfully broke and desperate and the product would have to be awfully bad before I'd even consider it.

    1. I agree, if I don't personally care for it I will try to find someone who can (thank you break room at work) and make a mental note to not buy it again.

      If there is something wrong with the product I will try to return it if it is more than just a couple bucks. Otherwise I don't bother.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Lixer

        Yeah, this isn't even a close call. Stale? Moldy? "Woofy"(Our household term for "off" meat.)? You can return it. If you just don't like it, you're stuck.

        And I had to laugh at your thanks to the work break room. We have a few pretty big eaters where I work. They'll hit anything like a blight.

      2. I agree. In a restaurant, part of what you're paying for is the right to be impressed, or at least satisfied, with the food you choose, mainly because it's cooked specifically for you. Grocery stores, however, are not designed to cater to the individual - they're just a warehouse. Therefore, it's not the grocery store's responsibility to satisfy your individual tastes.

        1. If a store allows me to return what I don't like I do it. They chose the policy and I don't mind following it. And because of it I'm more willing to experiment. But I'm not going to avoid shopping at a store that doesn't allow it. I'll just avoid buying unfamiliar expensive items.

          But I do wish that the store would inquire upon why an item is being returned and keep note of the complaints. I've returned 3 items to Trader Joes. The first because of mold (nozzle of whipped cream), didn't like the product (black bean dip too vinegary), and bad ground beef. They never asked why I returned them, and didn't seem to care when I told them.

          1. No. I wouldn't, anyway. Bad/spoiled/damaged food, sure, no brainer. I tried it and didn't care for it, too bad, lesson learned. Plus, I have better things to do than drive around, waiting in line to return stuff. I don't spend big bucks on new items unless I'm sure it will be good so the hassle for a couple of bucks isn't worth it to me.

            1. If the store allows it, then you are 'entitled.' If enough customers are unreasonable about returns, then the store will probably refine or change its policy. I once returned lunchmeat because of an unusual multicolored sheen on the slices. I was assured that it was safe to eat, but it didn't look right to me. The lunchmeat was exchanged for other product that had no odd sheen. In that case I dealt with a store manager.

              The poster below makes a good point. When you are dissatisfied with a product, you would think that the store would at least have a short form for you to fill out about why you are returning the product. That way the store would know what products were not satisfactory to the most customers, at the very least.

              I suppose the costs of finding out the reason for return, and tracking all the returns, is more costly to the store than simply taking back the items and refunding the purchase price.

              1. It depends on the store. Traders Joe's and Costco make a big deal of they no questions asked, return it if you don't like it policy. It's part of their greater marketing and sales plan, and they have decided the cost returns is worth the gains of repeat customers trying new products. Trader Joe's in particular pushes this policy. Frequently you don't even have to "return" the item. More than once chowhounders have told of TJ's cashiers giving unrequested refunds after casual conversation revealed the customer had tried and didn't like something. For these stores, I have no problem with people returning something they didn't like.

                For pretty much any other store I shop, no, I won't ask for a refund just because I didn't like something. It isn't store policy to offer returns or exchanges for products they can't resell, and I'm not inclined to ask them to make an exception just for me.

                7 Replies
                1. re: mpjmph

                  I agree. Costco does this so that you will pay $15 for something, without having to wonder "but what if I haaate it!??" Also, it gives them good feedback on what they're ordering, and can lead to Quality Control calls on the plant.

                  1. re: Chowrin

                    I hadn't thought about the feedback aspect of the giant stores using returns as a quality control measure. Interesting.

                  2. re: mpjmph

                    "Just because you didn't like something," can also include that the quality was sooo bad that you didn't like it. For instance, the meat was so mushy that you couldn't even tell if it were meat; that sort of thing. Or the crab meat was too watery to use successfully. That sort of thing would fall under "just because you didn't like something" IMO.

                    To other responses: If one shops at one stop once a week, there should be no problem using extra gas to get there to return a product - after all, aren't you going to be there anyway? I don't think I've ever (with an exceptional few times years ago in a store I don't frequent any longer) stood in line more than 2-3 minutes. To return a product I've even paid $5 for, this is worth it to me to save the $5. Put it in a charity jar or tip jar - or whatever.

                    1. re: Rella

                      ... not everyone shops once a week. try once every three months.

                      1. re: Chowrin

                        I'd like that myself. I have to go to the farm to get milk once a week. And then I use that occasion/trip to get the produce. Otherwise I'd do a three-month stint also. I can hang in there during the snow storms. I've done a three-WEEK stint a number of times. Probably could do a longer time, wouldn't want to :-))

                        Juice: an hour ago: all fresh carrots, oranges, lemon, chard, etc.
                        And I have a garden, too.

                        1. re: Rella

                          I walk half a block to get milk. and it's not "shopping" because I just buy milk and leave. (is that making any sense? shopping is where impulse purchases/free purchases can happen)

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            I always take a list. Impulse items can be happy or unhappy ones, as you know. I used to live in San Francisco many decades ago, where shopping was a long walk or a bus ride. No impulse shopping there -
                            My life-style is much different now.

                  3. These policies, while generous, lead to a sense of entitlement and lack of personal responsibility in the long run.

                    If the product is faulty - yes, the store should make it right.
                    If it is just not to the customers taste - no. That a part of life, sometimes you don't like a new product. Chalk it up to experience and move on.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: meatn3

                      I typed up a long rambling response, but meatn3 concisely sums up my thoughts.

                      1. re: meatn3

                        +1- the alternative embarrasses me

                        1. re: meatn3

                          "These policies, while generous, lead to a sense of entitlement and lack of personal responsibility in the long run."

                          Costco is counting on us to have a "sense of entitlement" when it comes to returns. These policies aren't in place because corporations are generous. They are in place because they affect the bottom line in a positive manner. Stores like Costco want you to try something new, and to feel fully empowered to return it to them if you don't like it.

                          They know that most people won't go the trouble to return it, especially if we are talking a perishable food item. Most folks don't want to make another special trip to return something that will spoil before they make another regular visit to Costco.

                          So the trick for stores is, how do we get shoppers to make impulse purchases? Why we tell them, "No worries. Return anything you don't like, no questions asked." Hell, most of the time while you are there returning one thing the store figures you'll buy two of something else in any case.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Yeah, for some stores no-questions-asked returns are part of their shopping experience. Trader Joe's is one - they have a rapidly changing selection, and it's a way of getting people to try new things. For Costco, I think it's partially because of the large size nature. I'm a lot less likely to try something I'm not sure of it if I'm going to end up with a case full of it. Both stores also have enthusiastic free-sample policies. So I could see returning stuff at both places with a clear conscience.

                        2. You are entitled to TRY to return it. The store is just as "entitled" to deny your request.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: beevod

                            I'd say that's a fair and reasonable statement.

                            My personal approach is to think I experimented and made a discovery ("I didn't like it") and that's worth something so I just move on from the experience. But if someone wants to bother keeping track of the unhappy product and remember which store it came from and make a trip there, then good on them if they have a store that cares enough for their business to make a refund.

                            In practical fact, in a family and circle of acquaintances that you could share with there's rarely something that someone couldn't enjoy in some way. So if it isn't spoilage or dereliction of some sort why invest in the negative part of the experience?

                          2. I've never done it but if the store has a guarantee policy, I don't see a problem w/ it. It's good customer feedback. If people hate it and don't tell them, the store has no idea why. I'm pretty vocal about food I like, especially things that are discontinued or things I don't like, especially if asked. If I owned a store, I'd want to know. If they don't, they can just ignore me.

                            1. Personally, I wouldn't return something just because I didn't like the taste. I mean, that's life - not everyone likes the same things. Chalk it up to experience and never buy it again, that's my motto.

                              But I bet some stores would allow it. I know that many big brands have a note on their packaging which says something like "If you are at all dissatisfied with this item please send the packaging to blah blah blah" and it doesn't really specify what "dissatisfied" covers. I'm betting they automatically send out vouchers to any complaints that come in with a generic "Sorry you were disappointed" message. Of course, for more serious complaints they will obviously do more.

                              Anyway, similar notes appear on the packaging of some stores own brand goods. I'm betting they have a similar policy of giving a refund or at least vouchers to unhappy customers. Of course, this is a store policy issue and I expect they do also refuse refunds that they believe to be "unreasonable". So basically, the store can do whatever it wants and may well try to smarm a customer if they think it's worth their time.

                              1. Even at a place like Trader Joe's where I am "entitled" I wouldn't bring something back if I simply didn't care for it. I would, however, tell the manager my thoughts about it.

                                For most packaged goods, it's probably better to write or email the company who makes it, as they would have more of a vested interest in your opinion. You will likely get a coupon for another product and they will have valuable market input.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: iluvcookies

                                  LOL, I think it would be funny to write a company and tell them how much you hated their cookies and have them send coupons for freebies in return. But, I know what you mean--I've done that when I like products and been sent free coupons. I think, as stores go, that they care if customers don't like a product they carry because they can stop wasting shelf space on it, rather than waiting for a company to reformulate a product that people don't like. I don't think Keebler cares that I don't like Elfwiches or whatever cookies they make but Trader Joe's can stock something else if their customers don't like it.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    I'm sure Keebler does care very much about whether you like their cookies.

                                    I once complained to L'Oreal about a conditioner they carried (Studio Line)... the scent was unbearable and lingered in my hair for hours. They sent me coupons for OTHER products to try. I now use their hair color and foundation exclusively.

                                2. Yeah, I'm with a few others who would return something if they didn't like it *if* this was store policy. Costco etc. I see big box shopping as a sort of love and war all's fair situation. Stores without this policy, especially mom and pop type places, no, I would not return something just because I didn't like it.

                                  Having said this, I don't think I've ever actually returned something simply because I don't like it.

                                  1. I can't fault people for taking advantage of a store's policy but it's not something I would ever do.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                      Agreed- I'd feel like a chump and a half and I couldn't live with that

                                    2. I can't be bothered going back to the store for just a few bucks, but quite a few stores have a money-back guarantee so yes, if you buy their product and you hate it, they WANT you to take it back to them. One reason for returning stuff that tastes bad is that if nobody ever tells them their product sucks, how will they ever know that they need to rethink it? Maybe absolutely EVERYONE thought their cheese dip tastes like old gymsocks and they're just too polite to complain.

                                      But there are limits - no fair returning an empty box/packet and trying to say you didn't like it. If it was bad enough to return you'd know after one bite, not 2 dozen cookies.

                                      1. It depends. Assuming it is a matter of taste and not a spoiled product, I only think it us appropriate to return something you do not like if the store (or product) advertises a "you'll like it or money back" guarantee. I especially do so at Costco, as the quantities and therefore cost can be a bit high.

                                        1. This is why Costco had to change its return policy regarding electronics. People started bringing back old televisions, cameras and computers when new models came out.

                                          I will return something obviously bad/spoiled or at least the packaging so the store knows something was wrong with the batch. If there is a food item I just don't 'like', I won't buy it again; probably will have consumed it anyhow. I don't think I have ever purchased anything without reading the label, knowing the ingredients (which are listed in descending order) and being aware of how it should taste.

                                          1. I've returned a number of things that were obviously spoiled - I used to live near a store where the teenaged employees ran roughshod over the manager and things were routinely left out on the loading dock because nobody felt like putting it in the cooler. After the third incident in as many months, I called the customer service line and told them why I wouldn't be shopping at their store any more, with the dates of each of the screwups. The store was actually closed within months, although I'm sure I was nothing more than one more nail in the coffin.

                                            BUT...things I don't like I either deal with or get rid of...or I call the manufacturer directly -- although I've only done it once. I can't remember what the brand was, but they'd introduced microwaveable meals that you could keep in your desk drawer -- terrific (I thought) -- I can have those on days I'm too busy to get out to lunch!

                                            OMG -- it was horrible -- I ate two bites, threw it away, then called their 800 number to tell them how awful it was...for which they offered to send me coupons for the same thing...just free.

                                            Um, yeah....no thanks.

                                            1. Bad food is definitely a no brainer when bringing food back to a store. However, as a consumer, it is my decision to try something that I've not bought. When I do buy it, if I don't like it, and after asking everyone else in the house if they want said product, they don't like it. The product in question gets tossed. Never to be purchased again.
                                              Now..OTOH, there have been times when a product had a funny taste or something was not right. I have been well-known to contact the manufacturer and I'll, 90 percent of the time, get coupons for free product. Example. I was opening up a Duncan Hines Brownie mix--you know the plastic bag that is inside the box? Well, it "popped" open all over my body. I don't know who vacuum-packed THAT package. I contacted the customer service at DH, and got three coupons for three free Brownie Mixes.

                                              1. I can't imagine taking the time to do this. I'll return food that is spoiled or freezer burned because the store should know that this is happening and take measures to stop it, but a package of cookies that I just don't like? No way. And where do you draw the line? Among those who think it's okay to return packaged goods, are there any who think it's okay to return produce? "I'm bringing these back because I realized I hate rutabagas" just doesn't seem right to me.

                                                1. If a store has a "satisfaction guaranteed" policy, then yes of course you are entitled.

                                                  Otherwise, no.

                                                  1. "Entitled" is a good term for a lot of customers these days. I am in the grocery business. We have people that want us to return things they bought elsewhere. Even other store's store brand products. We had a family "return" a sheet cake they bought because "the color blue wasn't just right". There is a reason that the top of cake boxes are clear; if there is a problem it can be corrected before they leave the store. The best part: They ate the whole cake (which they said was very good) but since the color was "a bit off" they would like their money back.

                                                    We generally give money back on everything. Obviously anything that isn't good or has been recalled is returned. However, there is no end to customer's "entitlement" and it is getting worse.

                                                    12 Replies
                                                    1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                      Now that one takes the cake!

                                                      Sorry, had to :-)

                                                      1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                        I'd point them toward www.cakewrecks.com and tell them "tough toenails", it could have been worse.

                                                        1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                          I hope you told them to rearrange the words OFF and F***

                                                          1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                            Isn't indulging people like that what is making it worse? Some companies have very liberal return policies, which may work for the big guy, but the little guy can't necessarily afford to be so generous. And it almost makes you feel like a sucker for not taking advantage as much as you can. If the overly entitled people are driving up prices and retailers just want everyone to be happy and shop more, shouldn't I be getting MINE?

                                                            1. re: babette feasts


                                                              In our endless quest for customer satisfaction, we have lost track of the fact that sometimes the customer is NOT always right. He is always the customer, but sometimes he's a self-absorbed, selfish asshat whose entire raison d'etre is to sucker the rest of the planet out of every last freebie he can. Telling this shitstain "no" is not bad customer relations, it's setting limits for an overgrown toddler who has never been given limits.

                                                                1. re: babette feasts

                                                                  I love it when merchants tell annoying customers no. Some are lying, cheating jerks who really should have to pay twice for the merchandise they tried to steal by returning it after it was used.

                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                    My Costco has refused to renew the membership for a woman who has around an 80% return rate for the money she has spent. They definitely have to draw the line somewhere!

                                                                    1. re: Lixer

                                                                      I've wondered about this. I once saw/watched a woman return a TV which looked like it had been used up/abused - I can't remember whether she had a sales slip, but the TV looked like a 20-year-old model. I watched this transaction because I could not believe it - I was entranced.

                                                                      I have seen her shopping since, so I guess she's still good-to-go. :-))

                                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                                        Until a few years ago, you could return ANYthing to Costco. Forever. They finally drew the line at electronics to only 90 days and now that is part of their policy.


                                                                        Really. People were returning TVs, computers, cameras...when they became out of date.

                                                                2. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                  OMG- you can't polish a turd, this is what's kept me from seeking out jobs in the retail world.

                                                                3. I'm far too lazy to return things, usually. But, I think of stores like Sephora that have a very generous policy of taking back any cosmetic that you just don't like. I'm sure they see their fair share of people using half of a bottle of perfume before deciding to bring it back.

                                                                  For people like me, I spend way more money in that store because I know I can bring it back if it's worth it to me do to so. I'll buy that questionable item and figure it out later. I reason that the stores have done their research and know that these policies work out in their favor, despite the annoying people that come through and abuse it.

                                                                  26 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Azizeh

                                                                    Sometimes the policies are designed more to hurt the smaller, indie shops who simply aren't big enough to absorb this sort of return policy. Once they are gone the big guys can do whatever they want.

                                                                    Nordstroms started this in the '80's and it was the kiss of death for many indie stores. The sense of entitlement from consumers has soared in the years since.

                                                                    A good company wants to do right by their customers, but these policies encourage abuse - and we all in up paying for it in the end.

                                                                    (Not jumping on you Azizeh, just your last sentence led me to this line of thought.)

                                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                                      I think this all depends upon your world view, and I happen to think you're looking at this all wrong. Anything that makes your customers happy will by definition hurt your competition -- that's the nature of competition. Whether the Nordstrom return policy was "designed more to hurt the smaller, indie shops who simply aren't big enough to absorb this sort of return policy" is questionable, but it did make loyal customers out of Nordstrom shoppers.

                                                                      Look, if I open a shop down the street from you, that by definition is bad for you. If I stay open even one hour more than you, or charge one dollar less, is that designed to put you out of business? To the extent that I'll profit if you go away, sure. So anything I do, including unlocking my door in the morning, is designed to put you out of business, even if my only intent is to make my customers happy and feed my kids in the process.

                                                                      Am I supposed to charge more than you, provide worse service and a worse return policy than you, just out of courtesy to you, so as not to seem predatory? If there's something I do better than you, then you need to find some unique thing you can do better than I can to set us apart and prove your value in the marketplace.

                                                                      So this dark conspiratorial view is a little twisted, IMO.

                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                        No, not a dark conspiratorial view - just an observation after working high level management in many facets of retail for decades.

                                                                        Competition is good - for customers and for the businesses. Ever see a part of town loaded with antique stores? Customers love it - one spot to go and oodles to see. Most of the businesses in the area know each others expertise and inventory and have no problem referring a shopper to the spot which has the item they are looking for. Being in a "district" is good for the businesses too, lots of pluses for everyone.

                                                                        Walmart is a perfect example of a business model designed to eliminate indies. During the '80's they started expanding into small markets and offering terrific prices. Within a year the indie shops of all types in the town generally closed. Then the model moved to dictating prices from wholesalers, who now had a much smaller list of clients.

                                                                        You pay one way or the other. I'd rather support a local company who's revenues stay in my community, in the local banks, supporting local charities, using local printers, etc.
                                                                        When viewed from a broader, long term perspective this business method is seen time and time again.

                                                                        Each time we lose an independent we loose as consumers and limit our options bit by bit.

                                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                                          Often one trades being gouged by local storeowners for being gouged by the big guys. I've seen very few local businesses that haven't take advantage of their customers in some way or another, leaving no alternative business to go to. Even though I don't support Walmart by buying there, I do support what few busineeses remain, But I've seen too many arrogant business owners who think they have it all locked up.

                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                            I was actually going to mention Wal-Mart pre-emptively because I didn't know if you were going to go there. The side of that story that no one ever talks about is that the small shops that went out of business just couldn't compete because they couldn't do anything better than Wal-Mart did, not just price.

                                                                            Everyone wants to blame predatory pricing tactics by Wal-Mart for the demise of the Mon-and-Pop stores but that just isn't it. The little stores had crappy selection and lousy service as well, and when they finally got some competition in these areas, the customers voted with their wallets. I know we all like to have this romantic notion of how this horrible corporate behemoth destroyed small town America, but it's just fairy tale nonsense.

                                                                            And to the extent Wal-Mart (and other big retailers like Target and Costco) "bully" wholesalers and distributors into lowering their prices or adjusting their product lines, that's so they can keep their prices low, so they can make a profit (that's capitalism) and keep their customers happy at the same time.

                                                                            I don't miss the indie shops at all. Whenever I go into one in my small town, I stand in line for an hour while the clerk/owner chats for an hour with the customer in line in front of me about the weather and who baked what cake at the Rotary sale. Please, really, all I want to do is buy a pair of socks.

                                                                            Everyone likes to bust on Wal-Mart. I don't often shop there but I do sometimes. They often carry products I can't find anywhere else. The facts are that they pay better than average wages and have better than average benefits, and every community where they are is better off now than before they were there, and they make goods and services more affordable to their customers than ever before.

                                                                            They're not "designed to eliminate indies" any more than one indie is designed to eliminate another one. And every time we choose one store we hurt another, so by your logic we should never shop anywhere. We should volunteer to pay more than is necessary for everything.

                                                                            Where do you think the people who work at Wal-Mart live? The revenues stay in the community, or at least most of them do. *That* is the broader, long-term perspective.

                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                walmart is dying, as is the American middle class. Long Live Family Dollar!
                                                                                ... bottomfeeders prosper when people can't accept that their salaries have been dropping for ages, vis inflation.

                                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                  >>>"walmart is dying"<<<
                                                                                  Do you have any facts at all to back that up?

                                                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                                                    yarly. check out what they publish for investors. their sales at the end of months be tanking, because people are running out of money to buy their stuff.

                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                      I did. First q, sales and profits up in all divisions. 2nd q, sales down about 1/2 % (but growing month to month) but profits up in Walmart division, sales and profits up in Sam's club division so flat in company overall domestically. Way, way up internationally. Hardly what I'd call dying.

                                                                                      If people are running out of money that would apply to everywhere, not just one chain.

                                                                                      Save the wildly inaccurate hyperbole for somewhere else.

                                                                                      I don't work for them, own their stock or even shop there much. I just hate when people make wildly inaccurate statements without any backup.

                                                                                      I don't know what "yarly" means.

                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                        dig deeper. i'm citing their investment reports, but I'm looking at sales on a week to week basis.

                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                          Looking at sales on a week to week basis is like saying Global Warming is real because it was hot outside today. It may or may not be, but it just isn't enough data. It's the difference between Weather and Climate. It's just an insignificant snapshot.

                                                                                          When a company lays off 50% of its workforce and closes 70% of its locations, you can say it's dying. Not before. Until then you just sound silly.

                                                                                      2. re: Chowrin

                                                                                        Perhaps people are running out of money to buy their stuff; however, another reason could be that maybe people don't want to buy their stuff.

                                                                                        1. re: Rella

                                                                                          not if their sales are remaining steady and increasing in their international stores.

                                                                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                The article doesn't prove anything you've said and doesn't disprove anything I've said. I just don't understand the point you're trying to make re: any particular chain or the economy or anything else.

                                                                                                It's "dying" only in the sense that we all begin dying from the day we are born. What's your point about inflation? Do you honestly expect a loaf of bread to still cost a nickel like it did in 1930? That means you're worth a dollar a week, right?

                                                                                    2. re: acgold7

                                                                                      This generalization about independent businesses is as ill informed and inaccurate as the many generalizations about Walmart! As an independent retailer I can tell that the "indie" you describe, if that situation exists, probably won't and shouldn't be in business much longer. That said, your "indie" description is a blanket statement that is far from representative of most independent retailers of which I am aware.

                                                                                      1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                        I went back to my earlier posts and tried to find where I made a generalization about all indie businesses and couldn't find one. What I found was a description of my personal experiences with the ones in my town. You obviously are different and I meant no disrespect to you so let me say, present company excepted. Your assessment of the vendor I described is correct: They shouldn't, they aren't, and nobody I know misses them.

                                                                                        If you have survived in the face of the megastores then you have obviously found a point of differentiation, and more power to you. Those who can't do that, perish. Capitalism is brutal economic Darwinism but it's better than the alternative.

                                                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                                                          ... because we like disposable products, and planned obsolescence! If only the boomers had actually downscaled as their paychecks shrunk, we'd still have clothes that were manufactured well.

                                                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                                                            ... and ice cream that's not mostly air.

                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                              I hate air-filled ice-cream too, which is why I get mine at Costco. You're out of luck if you want anything but Vanilla, though. Really wish they would make a Chocolate.

                                                                                            2. re: acgold7

                                                                                              It was mostly the pro-Walmart stuff and the "don't miss indies". Your description of the place you shopped seemed to infer that all indies are like this. My apologies. However, Walmart isn't designed to eliminate indies...they're out to eliminate everyone! That's the world we live in and companies will have to continue to adjust.

                                                                                              1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                                All businesses do what they must do to succeed, or they fail. All businesses are designed to eliminate everyone -- it's the basis of capitalism for better or worse and Wal-Mart isn't any more or less guilty of this than you or anyone else is. If I opened up next to you with the same product mix, you'd be outraged and would do anything to eliminate me, and no one wold blame you. And you'd be no different from any other retailer, big or small.

                                                                                                I'm not particularly pro-Wal-Mart, although I could see where people could think I am from the above posts. What I am is against people deciding they hate something and then twisting round the facts to justify their opinion (not you but others on this and other boards).

                                                                                                Sorry to have dragged this further OT.

                                                                                  2. re: Azizeh

                                                                                    I can tell you from my 3 or so cumulative years of traveling through Asia, Europe and Central America that this "return entitlement" is certainly unique to our culture. When our friends from other cultures visit, they marvel at our ability to return used products. It's simply unheard of in most other parts of the world. My wife is from Taiwan, and it took her several years before she got used to the feeling of freedom that comes with your ability to return things.

                                                                                    I once was hanging out with a Polish friend in Krakow's central square. She bought a little necklace, a cute and cheap simple string with beads on it, from a cart vendor in the main square. She literally took 4 steps away from the cart and the string broke, and the beads fell onto the cobblestones. "Go back! Get a new one!" I said. "Are you crazy? I can't do that," was her reply. No customer entitlement in Poland.

                                                                                    But here's the thing. We tend to pay higher prices (perhaps this is not the case in Western Europe, but it certainly is throughout most of Asia and Central America) and that higher price insulates the retailers from red ink. It's like a casino bet... the retailer is betting that most people will not return that 300% marked up necklace. And they're right, most people won't. So those people who are happy with their purchase (or who simply do not want to exercise their option to return it) are subsidizing the ability for everyone else to return it. The retailer keeps a customer happy, and that customer returns to shop another day, and continues to buy items marked up 300%. Happy happy. The cart vendor in Poland isn't concerned about return customers. He only cares about the cold, hard złoty he can get here and now.

                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                      Some 35+ years ago I still l recall the expensive purse I bought in Florence. I walked outside and the clasp no longer worked - if it ever did. I still hear the answer to my cry, "You bought it, it's yours." Actually, I still recall her face.

                                                                                  3. Ethical questions can *always* be answered by putting yourself in the other guy's place. Simple as the Golden Rule.

                                                                                    But meatn3's point about driving small stores out of business with ridiculous refund offers is a point I hadn't thought of. "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." But in this case an innocent and unaware 3rd party is being hurt, not the 2 principals.

                                                                                    1. I don't think so. You buy it, you take the chance, and you see if it is a product for you.

                                                                                      Yes, there are stores that will accept anything back at any time for any reason, but remember this: as the excessive and unnecessary returns increase, so will the prices. You don't EVER get something for nothing.

                                                                                      I would NEVER try to return something from the grocery store that I simply didn't like.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                        Stores like Trader Joe's and Costco that explicitly allow returns for any reason essentially absorb the cost as part of their advertising and promotions budget. The increased sales from people who would otherwise hesitate to buy an unknown product (especially at Trader Joe's, which carries a lot of products not available elsewhere and is continually introducing new products) or a large quantity of a product (as at Costco), plus the customer loyalty and confidence the guarantee policy generates, more than offset the cost of a few refunds, especially since most people won't take advantage of the policy.

                                                                                        Furthermore, these companies both carry a limited, well-edited selection of products. They believe in the products they sell, and they back it up with their return guarantee. As Trader Joe's says "we love it, and we think you'll love it, too. If you don't, bring it back."

                                                                                        That said, if it's not the store's explicit policy, no, you're not "entitled" to anything.

                                                                                      2. what do stores do with returned goods? Do they return them to the manufacturer, tell the manufacturer or just throw them out and not bother to report it?

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                                          I'm no expert but I imagine that they just take the loss when there is no obvious manufacturer's defect.

                                                                                          1. re: smartie

                                                                                            When I've returned food to Trader Joes they just scan, give me cash, and toss the product. No questions asked.

                                                                                          2. Absolutely NOT!! ~~ Exception...bad, spoiled, moldy, yada, yada, yada!

                                                                                            Entitled....I don't care for the term in this context......Grow up!! Accept some responsibility!!! ~~ It builds character......


                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. We're somewhat rare local regulars at a Publix in a largely tourist area. We know the store's longtime employees; they know us as folks who are reasonably polite and not overly demanding. They're one of those stores with 'if you're unhappy with your purchase for any reason, please return it for a full refund' sorts of places, and they actually live up to that. (Though I admit I've never seen someone try to return a $150-$200 bottle of half drunk wine there.) We've gotten into conversations with the meat counter guys, and mentioned that, yeah, we tried Brand X chicken and didn't like it as much as their Brand Y chicken, and the butcher has asked us to wait a second, gone into the back, and returned with a package of Brand Y chicken for like $2 when it should have been like $15 for the package.

                                                                                              So yeah, I feel like they're serious about that pledge, and as long as I don't feel like abusing it, I'll have no qualms about taking back a product simpl for underperforming.

                                                                                              1. No also, unless there's truly something wrong with it quality-wise other than you don't care for it. it just raises up the prices for al of us in the long run, we're far too spoiled as it is. Eat it and shut up. Or don't eat it and shut up. You should know your tastes well enough to know if you're likely to like something, and if you don't, surely you can give it to a friend. It's not the store's fault that you took a risk and it failed.

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                  >>>Eat it and shut up. Or don't eat it and shut up.<<<

                                                                                                  I love this.

                                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                    That's a little harsh. It's not being spoiled when a person returns an item in accordance to a store's policy. It is the store's fault when they take a risk by selling a product that fails and they should bear some of the responsibility. And prices will go up whether or not someone returns an item.

                                                                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                      I have bought items at Tjs that I've never tried and the staff at the store sasy "if you don't like it, bring it back." I have returned it and gotten my money back and I don't see how that is showing a "sense of entitlement" but rather just taking them up on their offer.

                                                                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                        >>It is the store's fault when they take a risk by selling a product that fails and they should bear some of the responsibility.

                                                                                                        There's a loud, vocal contingent in this country which believes one-time sales and bad word-of-mouth (resulting in warehouses full of unsold product and lower stock prices) is how a company takes responsibility for poor buying decisions. It has nothing to do with a perceived obligation to the customer.

                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                    2. Consumer legislation may differ depending on what part of the world someone is in. Where I am, returns have to be on the basis of "faulty". Returning some foodstuff because it simply wasnt liked is unlikely to even see it exchanged or refunded as a act of goodwill by tghe shop.

                                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                        It's generally not any consumer legislation but policy of the retailer so it varies store to store.

                                                                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                          check again, Escondido -- in different countries, it is most assuredly national legislation.

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            Are you saying there are countries where stores are legally obligated to offer refunds based on a consumer disliking an item?

                                                                                                            1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                              No, I'm agreeing with Harters that there are places where refunds must be "on the basis of 'faulty'" -- meaning that retailers are not only not *obligated* to refund your money based on dissatisfaction, but they might not be legally *allowed* to do so.

                                                                                                              Harters, next time you're over, let's try to return something we don't like to Carrefour. Har dee har har har. Good luck with that!

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                I don't see how you can keep a store from giving you your money back if they want to.

                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                  because they get fined when the authorities find out. Lands' End had to set up an entirely different website because they got into very hot water with German authorities when they landed with advertisements for their "guaranteed. period" approach to business.

                                                                                                                  Coupons and clearance sales are similarly regulated.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    That's bizarre. If a company wants to give something away, why shouldn't they?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                      I was in Paris in January several years ago and was pleasantly surprised to find wonderful sales in just about every store. Several locals explained to me that there were specific times of the year that stores were legally permitted to run this type of sale.

                                                                                                                      This link explains it fairly well. From a US perspective it is quite strange. It would be interesting to learn how this method came to be!


                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                        because it is a part of the cost that isn't advertised up front.

                                                                                                                        Not for me to argue, only to pass along (and live with).

                                                                                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                I was unclear, I meant in the US and pertaining to grocery stores...I should have been explicit..

                                                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                  Harters is talking about grocery stores.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    NOPE!! I don't ask for directions, nor return stuff, for any reason.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      Albeit not American grocery stores - I have no idea about what consumer legislation there is in that country or, indeed, any other country but my own.

                                                                                                            2. I agree with you. Personally, i would never even think of returning something just because i didn't like it. I know when i am trying something new that there's a chance i might not like it. If i don't like it, i just won't buy it again...not the store's fault.

                                                                                                                1. I believe that this has been something of an issue for long enough to give rise to the Latin (!) saying "Caveat emptor."

                                                                                                                  1. No! When you buy food at any market, the expectation is that it is reasonably fresh (not spoiled), is essentially as labelled (mustard in a ketchup bottle is not), is not contaminated with harmful toxins, bacteria or particles (no pieces of glass!), and is reasonably consistent from package to package unless otherwise marked (Oreo cookies should not all of a sudden contain bacon bits in the frosting). If you buy a package of food which you simply do not like, you should have no expectation that the store will or should give you your money back. The same goes for food or wine ordered at a restaurant.

                                                                                                                    That being said, some markets (TJ's immediately comes to mind) actually state in printed materials and signage that they want you to try new products at their risk, and that if you do not like them "bring them back for an unquestioned refund". I would have no problem taking them up on their offer and returning something I just don't like.

                                                                                                                    1. I'd never take a food product back simply because it didn't suit my personal taste. If it's truly awful, I might go so far as to complain to the company that produced it, but it's hardly the retailer's fault if I don't like what I bought.

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: suebeehoney

                                                                                                                        Not to worry. The "retailer" is going to turn right around and get its money back from the company that produced it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                          That used to be the case but in a lot of instances that retailer is not going to turn around and just get their money back from the producer. This is just no longer the case as it used to be.

                                                                                                                          1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                                                            It all depends on how creative the retailer is in explaining the "problem" with the item. Kind of along the same lines of how creative ones Family Prac Doc (or Hospital) is when coding the reimbursement form it sends along to the HMO.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                              Well then I need to learn to be more creative because I've been in retail grocery for 23 years and this is news to me....... In some case you are right but companies don't have reps on the street much anymore and service levels have declined.

                                                                                                                      2. I have tried several "new to me" foods because I knew that I could return them if I did not like them. I now buy several of the "test driven" products regulary. I have returned things that I just do not like.

                                                                                                                        1. Without going off on a huge diatribe about "entitlement" - how can it possibly be OK to return something simply because you don't like it. Yes, TJ's and anyone who has a no-questions-asked return policy clearly intends that, but other places? You buy a can of paint - say a sample size - and like it on your walls at home, go back and paitn and then decide you don't like the color? You then bring the paint back for a refund? Whatever any of us does for a living, are we willing to provide a money-back guarantee to accept merchandise or service back for cash just based on personal preference? I can't imagine. I'm certainly not willing or able to do that, and if I wouldn't do itpersonally, I'm not going to ask a merchant to do it for me.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: lifeasbinge

                                                                                                                            Actually, I do have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The though that someone may not be happy with one of the items that I made and sold to them keeps me awake at night. Big picture - I get more first time customers and have a stronger repeat customer base. This holds true for the other vendors at my farmer's market who do the same.

                                                                                                                          2. My knee-jerk reaction to the question was no way unless the food was moldy, insects in it, etc. After reading some responses, I'd still say no way except where a store like Cosco is inviting you to try something you might not normally purchase with the caveat that "if you don't like it for any reason, you can return it with no questions asked." Other than that, no way. What's next? I'm returning this because I overcooked it and I don't like burnt steak?
                                                                                                                            I am way too often trying things where there's a good chance I might not like the taste. I would never consider bringing it back.