How to return a non-returnable refurb

Ask a random bystander if he’s into online gambling and he might sniff that he doesn’t waste his money on games of chance. Ask him instead if he ever bought a refurbished piece of electronic equipment from an online retailer and he might say sure, from time to time. Well, newsflash, bystander, that’s online gambling.

Some online retailers will permit you to send back a refurb as easily as you would a new item, issuing you a magical RMA (return merchandise authorization, aka return material authorization). But just as often, you may find that your retailer’s policy is to replace your refurb rather than credit your original form of payment. A “with beans” correspondent recently tried to use a retailer’s online form to return a lousy refurbished phone and the knee-jerk response of the form was to spit back the response that an RMA could not be issued for the item. In so many words, the retailer’s was saying “Either keep your lousy phone or have us send you one that you now have reason to believe may suck just as much.”

Well, there’s a fiendishly simple way to get around that, and it comes down to three magic words: email or call the customer service department and say you understand the policy but that you see this as a customer satisfaction issue. Coolly dropping this phrase works almost every time, because linguistically and otherwise you’ve sidestepped the Draconian return policy and elevated your case to a realm that’s a bit more intangible. In the case of the bum phone, our correspondent sent an email with that phrase and within ten minutes got a response – by phone – from an apologetic rep who never once lectured him about the restrictive, stated return policy and graciously issued an RMA. That’s good news for you, very smart business for them.

Image source: Davide Vizzini via Wikimedia Commons

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