The Return Mentality

Published 1:01 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We have been trained. We make our purchases with confidence. If we don’t like it, if it don’t fit, if it doesn’t hold up…..we can return it.

This is a good system, but one that can be abused. It is like taxes, some people fudge a little or they work the system to their advantage. Yes, we should all be high moral, ethical people but who hasn’t tried to return something a little past the deadline. Because we all know, things break right after the warranty is out, cars break down four hundred miles past the mileage count and electronics die just when the receipt is no good.

Why? It is probably a communist plot by manufacturers to overtake the country by killing us with frustration and wreaking havoc on our wallets. Or, maybe they just don’t make things to last these days.

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Like washing machines. My parents had one that lasted longer than I was in the house, and mom’s still using her mixer that she got in the sixties (probably because she doesn’t cook much, thank goodness.) With all these boys and all my laundry I wore out a Maytag washer in less than four years. Four Years! My last one lasted 17 and still worked when I gave it away….

So, maybe we have to return things because they are not very good. But, many times we buy items on the spur of the moment and think better of it later when we realize, I just paid money for this? I will never use it. But don’t worry, the receipt is in the wallet and you can ‘return’ it.

When I buy clothes, most of the time I never take the time to try them on. Why? Because I can try them on in the personal comfort of my home and look in My Mirrors to see how badly they fit. I blame the retail stores. They have made it so easy to return therefore I return…and return…and return.

You open my purse and it looks like a garbage can with all the crumbled paper. All receipts. Just in case I need to ‘return’.

This mentality keeps the economy moving. It works. Christmas is made easier because we all know if they don’t like it….they can return it….and buy something they want. Of course, the gift card has become a much better plan because you only have to stand in one line to buy and not to return and buy. You can cut out the return line.

The return line is not a happy-happy joyful place. Most people are pleasant about returns, but there are the occasionally irritated consumer who wants to be a drama queen. He is not satisfied and don’t we all know it. Things can really get out of hand when a “non-return” occurs.

This is a fearful event. We are so use to returning our stuff that when the dreaded words, “You can’t return this,” are spoken all kinds of alarms go off in our head. What! I can’t? The shock is intense and the realization sinks in that you might have to keep the awful object now. You paid good money for it. It is yours. Yikes.

My suggestion is “Goodwill”. At least someone else will be able to use it. Turn an ugly into a pretty.

Now, that you are trained, brainwashed, whatever to return your stuff. We find this way of thinking bleeds over into other areas of our lives or other purchases. Like buying a car. We know once we sign the dotted line that it’s ours and especially if it is used, it could leave you on the side of the road on the way home. What recourse would we have if this happens? Nothing. We would spend more money to fix it. Why? We can’t return it. But, how many would return back to the seller or the lot and let them know about it.

Many homes have been purchased this past year. How many moved in and a little time later thought, I have my receipt can I return this shack and get my money back?

If you think about it, we do the same with our loved ones. Our spouses have been ‘returned’ for years, just look at the divorce rate. You marry them (purchase) and then after the honeymoon phase (sometimes during) one consumer decides this isn’t what I wanted, it doesn’t fit or they didn’t build this one very well and can I either exchange or return he or she? Then the lawyer comes in and the return is made. It becomes a Wal-mart marriage.

Not only spouses, but children. How many at some dark and gloomy moment of parenthood ‘sort of’ wished you could return them. You know you still have a doctor’s bill somewhere that could be used for a receipt. But who would take the kid, the hospital, the doctor cause it ain’t going back where it came from!

It is sad to say, parents are turning in their children but back to their own parents. Grandparents end up raising their grand children all because parents decide they can’t. We have to teach and stress to our children early on that once you make a baby, no one else is responsible for raising that child but them. You can’t return it. These lessons are best stressed before a baby occurs and not afterwards. No child should grow up secretly knowing in his heart his real parents were not mature or capable enough to take them. But thank God for people who will take these thrown away children and make a beautiful and loving life for them. Yes, for many it will be a much better existence.

When having kids you have to throw away the receipts.

I am pretty happy with my life purchases. My house is worth much more than I paid for it so there definitely won’t be any returning, maybe selling. My car runs although is costs more to run it these days. My spouse is a real keeper and as long as I threaten him with custody of the twins (he keeps them) I think he will forget exchanging me as well. And as for all my children, even though there are moments of frustration and fear, I think they are made well and they give me moments of pure delight…..all four of my boys. No receipt and no return here.

But about my wardrobe? Oh my! I need to return about fifteen pounds of me!