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well now that the holiday season is over (well to some it is, i'm officially writing it off -- santa came and stayed up very late putting things together in my..er...um his garage), let the red ink for the retail industry fly.  i'm talking about the "other" season that is hitting the stores...returns/exchanges.

i'm taking some time off this week and had no other better excuse so my i accompanied my wife to the mall to return some items (note to self: don't buy women clothes).  i was extremely hesitant as i'm a terribly impatient person and completely selfish...but i went...2 kids in tow as well.

the mall actually wasn't that bad -- we got there at the beginning to seemingly avoid the rush (and we did, we left at 1pm and it was a friggin madhouse in the parking lots).  this year i managed to do most of my shopping online, and was grateful for that.  in return, however, i learned a valuable lesson -- pay attention.  yes that's right, the simple lesson.  you see, when i shopped online, i only purchased from stores that had a brick/mortar presence.  my inner voice was telling me that was the safest thing to do in the event of a return/exchange -- simply go to the store and do it there.  i stuck with only big names and recognizable stores to do this.  i simply didn't question that there would be any issue.  alas, there is my naivety.

one of the places i shopped was victoria's secret (yes, i'm married -- but even if i wasn't, and had a lady friend...mucho points with the ladies :-)).  i went online shopped for some things and purchased (remember, my wife even pointed me to the pajamas she wanted).  so that was the first store we went to.  i am guessing you can see where this is going.  the clerk told her "oh, i'm sorry the online store is completely different than our stores.  you have to return it through them."

completely different?  maybe this story should be on !  let's see, i went to victoriassecret.com -- and the name on the store says victoria's secret...heck the branding looks the same to me.  as a consumer, this WAS BROKEN.  i was furious -- as was the wife.  how could such a large retailer not "get it" when it came to purchasing online?  (note: every single other place allowed the returns: sport chalet, tillys, best buy, etc.)  they lost a customer that day.  the online was a convenience sure, but i also payed for that (i.e., shipping).  even if the actual business entities are set up differently, places like that (and that are that recognizable) should have some process set up...call them charge backs, whatever...don't make the consumer suffer.  in our eyes, there is no difference...the store is the store, whether it was online or not. 

that was my only bad experience this season -- but it left a lasting mark -- hey victoria, your thong might be a little too tight -- pull it out and figure out what consumers want, not what is easiest to you...

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