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Bed Bath & Beyond superfans might have some trouble swallowing this one: Effective April 20th, the company is changing its famously generous return policy, and will deduct 20 percent from returns that don't have receipts.
Over the weekend, a Racked tipster sent us a photo of a handout spotted at a Bed Bath store located in Bergen County, New Jersey, explaining the store's new policy of deducting 20 percent from an item's value if it is returned without a receipt and if the store cannot trace the transaction in its database. Bed Bath confirms to Racked the return policy will indeed be changed next month.
"We are expanding nationwide a modification to our return policy that will only affect customers whose purchase cannot be located to process a return, either because the receipt was not provided or because we could not identify the purchase through a query of our transaction records," Bed Bath writes to Racked in an email. "We have been providing advance notice of the upcoming change to our customers via signs and handouts in our stores, encouraging customers to hold onto their receipts to avoid being impacted by this change in any manner."
Last month, Racked ran an in-depth report on Bed Bath & Beyond's retail strategy; analysts and avid shoppers pointed to the liberal return policy as one reason why customers love shopping there and have been loyal for years. The brand's previous return policy, as stated on its website, gave customers without a receipt a full refund of a returned item for "an exchange or merchandise credit."
One store associate admitted to Racked last month that there are shoppers who abuse the return policy. The associate said that Bed Bath sees "outrageous returns," but noted that the brand does not lose money on returns because they see customers spending more money with their store credit than the cost of item they've returned. The brand also has deals with vendors who take back items and refurbish them, so the loss of income doesn't only come out of Bed Bath's pocket.
Bed Bath tells Racked it takes pride in "providing customers with a noticeably better shopping experience" and that "modifications such as this will allow us to continue to deliver exceptional service in the future."
The brand would not say if the decision to change the return policy had anything to do with losing profit. Competing retailer Costco changed its own liberal return policy in 2007 because shoppers were returning years-old electronics. Similarly, Amazon has changed its free shipping perks under Amazon Prime several times to keep up with its desire to please customers while trying to curb losses.
Bed Bath's new policy will likely upset some customers who've purchased expensive products from Bed Bath and will only get 80 percent of the item's worth in store credit if they cannot find their receipt. Then again, its return policy is still more accommodating than many other stores, which will not take back any purchases without a receipt.