Consumer Responsibility for Every Purchase

We have always been a proponent of buying locally. It just seems to make sense: Support thy neighbor. We frequent the mom and pop hardware store, the family-owned restaurants in town, and the local farmers’ market. Don’t get us wrong, we realize that buying locally costs slightly more than buying from a chain, but the benefits are worth it. During a time when unemployment is the new black, it only seems natural to pinch every penny, but perhaps that’s exactly what’s keeping the nation from climbing out of its hole.

We don’t encourage spending money for spending’s sake. We have always thought that the idea of spending money on frivolous items was ludicrous; a poor consumption habit that should be curtailed. Don’t waste money purchasing things that you don’t need. However, if a purchase must be made, it would behoove consumers to be more aware of what their money supports.

The freshest produce are grown locallyWhen Buying Something New

When shoppers are in the market to buy something new, they often go for the cheapest option. The problem is that the cheapest option is often made somewhere overseas. The cheap cost of labor, the absence of laws that ensure safe (and more costly) working conditions, and low import tariffs will guarantee a cheap product for the consumer, but at what cost?

If a corporation sends work overseas, often paying laborers mere pennies per hour, they will obviously be able to provide a much cheaper product and make larger profits than if they were to keep the work in the U.S. The up-side is that the consumer is provided the option of a cheaper product. The downside is that there is less incentive to hire workers in the U.S. when the cost of labor is cheaper overseas. In this day and age, most jobs can be sent overseas for a fraction of the cost of what it takes to keep them here.

Recently, large law firms have even opted to send research work overseas, paying cheaper wages to lawyers abroad; young attorneys in the United States incur high debt from education expenses that make it difficult to compete. These businesses are able to make big profits by targeting the one thing the average consumer is most concerned with: a lower price.

Working Conditions in Foreign Countries

Corporations save big money sending work overseas since environmental impacts and working conditions are less of a concern. Sure, a foreign country’s product is more affordable than a product made in the United States, but what if we ensured that human rights and natural environments were also protected abroad? The costs to minimize pollution and provide appropriate working conditions would factor into the price of the product.

Most corporations put a lot of money into their marketing divisions, hoping to deter consumers from thinking beyond the immediate goal of buying a cheap product that will supposedly enhance the quality of life. If consumers began to ask why the products are so affordable, they may reconsider their initial decisions. An Australian acquaintance noted that this was the only country he had ever visited in which the price of a product is the most important consideration. Other countries concern themselves with the quality of the product instead.

Consumers Deserve Quality

So, yes, quality is important. It would be a shame if the government increased tariffs on imported goods, shielding local companies from having to compete with more sophisticated products. We deserve to have the choice of purchasing a cutting-edge product, we want our nation to be competitive, but we have to understand that this may cost more. Complaints are made about increasing tariffs on imported goods, but these complaints need to be coupled with informed choices.

Consumers need to take responsibility for their purchases, realizing that every purchase we make casts a vote. In this case, money truly speaks. Are we so concerned with the price that working conditions abroad are of no concern to us? Is a cheap product so important that we can ignore the jobs sent overseas to guarantee these prices? It’s time to ask questions, compare products, and forget prices. Consumers cannot continue to wait for someone else to save our economy; we must save us from ourselves.

Dealing with Merchandise Returns

Any company that sells products will, at some point, get returns from customers. It’s important that these are accounted for correctly, and that they are not lost.

Customers should be aware of the company return policyAccording to Policy

Firstly, you need to have a solid returns policy in place that complies with the law. When accepting a return, you should start by making sure that the merchandise return is still within your acceptable returns period. Once this is confirmed, you must correctly enter the return into your system.

The Sales Return Entry

It is important that you have the original customer receipt. If you do not, there is no assurance that what you are refunding to your customer is what that client paid! Because of customer relations, some retailers will accept returns without receipts, but will only issue a store credit on those items. That way, the item can be re-shelved and sold for the amount refunded (less risk of loss this way). With the original receipt, it is simpler to enter the return for the same amounts that were originally charged – make sure that sales taxes and base cost are entered correctly!

Asking the Customer Why the Item Is Being Returned

Many retailers ask their customers why each item is being returned and will have a form for the client to fill out. This is so that the retailer has backup evidence on the return. This can be used for audit (accounting) purposes. And it can be used for proof to the supplier if something is defective. Many goods cannot be detected as defective until the end-user tries them out. Or sometimes something breaks as soon as it is used, such as a shoe that loses its outer sole in the first wearing. The defective goods will need to be returned to the vendor.

Vendor Return Issues

Hopefully, there will be no issues with the majority of your returns – it’ll all be straightforward, and you’ll get a credit (or check) for the same amount as what you paid. To be sure of this, your inventory costing and tracking system must be set up properly, to begin with. When you do send an item back to a vendor, you must have a system for tracking the expected credit. Once the credit is received from your supplier, you must match the actual credit received with the expected amount. If these differ, you will need to contact your vendor to let them know of the discrepancy. Always have a back-up! This should be your original purchase receipt and any information that you’ve received from your customer.

You should always be clear on your suppliers’ refund policies, as well. Some wholesalers will not take returns under certain conditions or after a specific amount of time. Familiarize yourself with these. As well, many wholesalers are willing to bend the rules a little for their better clients. This often means people who are easier to deal with, pay on time, and have few returns. Try to be one of those clients!

Reselling Returned Merchandise

In many (hopefully most) returns you will be able to resell the merchandise. To do this, the item needs to be in new condition, and if it was packaged, the packaging should be undamaged. If the packaging is damaged, it needs to be still usable and re-sealable (at worst, with a little tape). Some retailers will offer a small discount on items with damaged packaging. This is your choice.

You should now have a good idea of the major issues involved in customer returns. This will help you to set your policies and procedures, thus minimizing your losses on returned merchandise.