Buying with intent to return

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by demiro, Sep 4, 2013.

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  1. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    This topic comes up on all photography forums that I visit, so I thought it would be good to get feedback directly from B&H.

    Quite often people post that they have ordered two or more cameras to try out head-to-head, with the expressed intent of only keeping one. It often gets debated whether or not that is harmful to the retailer, or the rest of us, who presumably pay more in the long run to support the abuse of lenient return policies.

    Some of us believe the lenient return policies are simply the way an online retailer overcomes a customer's concerns about buying "blind". You think you want something, so you buy it, but you at least have a get out of jail free card for the purchase just in case something you couldn't anticipate really doesn't work for you.

    Other folks believe that the return policies are meant to encourage such things as multiple camera purchases, even if the buyer intends to return some or all of them.

    So please, B&H, give us your opinion. Share, if you don't mind, how your return policy impacts us all. And please let us know where you see liberal return policies heading in the future and why.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Real Name:
    I'd love to hear the answer to this too.

    I guess my feeling is that it's unethical to buy something you have no intention of keeping. In the case of buying multiple cameras, you may not know beforehand which ones will go back, but certainly your intent is that SOME of them go back, so this falls into that category.

    A store can have display models that you're free to handle, and everyone handles the same ones. It's not like they open a new box every time someone wants to try out a camera--but that's exactly what happens when you "try out" a camera at home and then decide to return it.

    On the other hand . . . in many places there aren't any stores! Given the way the market is moving, sometimes the only way to actually handle something is to have one delivered. I guess this is a different business model, and companies without a brick & mortar presence--like m43 gear, in general--will just have to accept a higher return rate on purchases since people are usually buying their products sight unseen.
  3. redington

    redington Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 28, 2012
    It's a dilemma. Should the online stores profit from customers who go to brick and mortar stores to compare products side by side before ordering online from a different store? I don't do this, but I see this as the cost of doing business online only - how else is a customer to compare without abusing a competitor who has to maintain a physical storefront?
  4. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    I have less problems with it if people are buying different camera models to test out ergonomics or UI. What I dislike the most is when people buy multiple copies of lenses, cherry pick the 'best copy' and return the rest.
  5. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I totally agree with your top statement and have never ordered something without the intent of keeping it. I have after a short time sold it and moved on however.

    I do fall under your bottom statement! I have to go 200+ miles if I want to feel the newest and best products. The local Walmart might have the bottom rung models but not the higher end ones and they always have giant locks on a lanyard.

    If B&H or other online retailers allow such things I might use it.
  6. winnie123

    winnie123 Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2012
    London, U.K
    Real Name:
    Gosh - do people really do that with the same lens :eek:
  7. emptysensor

    emptysensor Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 8, 2011
    Real Name:
    I view the return policies as an extreme insurance policy. I do a huge amount of research before I order with every intention of keeping an item. If, for some reason I haven't anticipated, or an ergonomic conflict becomes known, I can return the item instead of keeping something that just doesn't work. Ordering multiple colors or copies just doesn't make sense to me, and I also feel it is almost unethical.
  8. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    yes, I've read where people have done that on dpreview. I believe it is probably more of an issue with DLSRs where there can be front/back focus issues using pdaf. Having said that there is probably some sample variation in m4/3rds lenses as well.
  9. RajC

    RajC Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 6, 2013
    I'd be shocked if you hear from any retailers on this topic.

    Face it, if it didn't make money for them they wouldn't do it.
    What should bother us more is whether used equipment is being sold as new.
    Anything that is purchased by a consumer and returned is not new, regardless of how well it's repackaged.

    You should ask the companies what they do with returned merchandise.
  10. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    You will probably not get an answer from B&H for a few days as the New Year began at sunset.This is the start of the High Holy days which will have B&H closed on a number of days throughout September.

  11. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    I've never bought anything with the intent of returning it (or returning one of multiple purchases). I have bought with the knowledge that I could return if not satisfied.

    Companies like B&H, and Amazon, and similar web retailers have just about killed of the local camera store, so I often don't have the ability to try something out before purchase. The return policy is the current equivalent of try before you buy.
  12. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    I have a local brick n' mortar store here where I've purchased MANY products. :smile:

    That being said, I've turned down many opportunities to handle or use cameras because I knew that I would not be making a purchase.
  13. monk3y

    monk3y Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 14, 2013
    in The Cloud...
    Real Name:
    I guess that's why they/many offer refurbished stocks.

    I am not sure in any other countries but the US seems to have tons of refurbished stocks available. So I could only assume that's where the returned items are headed.

    This problem/dilemma seems to be concentrated more in the USA than any other countries as far as I can see. It's usually not that easy to return stuff just because you want to in many other countries.

    Luckily here in Japan, I can just go into any big camera stores and basically try the majority of new cameras from most manufacturers. They are readily available for anybody to try. :smile: All the way to medium format in some stores.
  14. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Real Name:
    Here in NZ you CANT return anything if you change your mind. The only way to return or get a refund on something its only because the product is faulty.

    I dont agree with that either. Because my approach is, why would i buy something if i dont know how it works?.

    Sometimes you go to a electronic store here in NZ and only a few products are on display but they carry much more, and if you ask to try something that is not on display they say no. But then they say no if you buy it blindly and you want to return it. Then i dont buy it. i dont get it. You want to sell or not?.

    then again, what exactly is the answer "we" are expecting from BH in this thread?
  15. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    Mu guess is that the approach that most folks have outlined in their posts are what B&H would find reasonable. When a merchant makes a sale by credit card, they pay a percentage for the transaction. IIRC, if the product is returned, I do not believe that they are credited back for that transaction cost, so it is a cost that needs to be accounted for one way or another. B&H prides itself on good service and low prices, so I would imagine that they would like to keep their returns (i.e. overhead) as low as possible. Nonetheless, they move a lot of merchandise, and I am sure there is an allowance for these types of costs/losses.

    For the record, I buy from B&H, and I buy from our two local B/M stores, but I do my very best never to try out an item locally and buy from B&H. That is not fair to my local merchant. If I try an item locally, I will generally buy it locally. My exception might be if an item is on open display at a big box retailer like Costco, Best Buy or Apple, but even then, I try to buy local if possible.

  16. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    Curious how many of you would be totally against buying an item as new that has been returned.

    Personally, providing there are no physical ma asks of any kind, I don't think I'd care whether my equipment had already had a few clicks on it, or been put on a camera body. I don't view gear as sacrosanct, like it has to be a virgin so the photography gods don't visit a plague of fungus on my lenses...
  17. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2012
    Real Name:
    Ciaran Reilly
    Getting a "new" product that's been opened and returned probably means it's been well checked over by the retailer before reshipping and is less likely to be "dead on arrival", on the bright side! Don't agree with buying with intent to return, not easy to do here either, but if US retailers encourage it I guess it's fair game!
  18. c0ldc0ne

    c0ldc0ne Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    If I buy new gear (and pay the full retail price for it), I certainly expect it to arrive in unopened and immaculate condition. I even check for fingerprints if the box is not sealed to make sure that the item has not been handled.

    The thing is that there is not guarantee that physical damage is visible from the outside. What if a camera took a nose dive from an upholstered staircase and managed to survive unscathed on the outside, but something got knocked out of alignment on the inside. And you may never notice that until well after you committed to a purchase, or even after the warranty expires.

    I agree that it's a problem for an online retailer that they cannot offer a store demo model to the customer for evaluation purposes so they will likely have to relegate a certain percentage of their sales volume to refurb status and sell it at a lower price with full disclosure. On the other hand, an online shop saves on several expenses that a B&M store cannot avoid, such as display stands, heating, staff, rent/mortgage for their store location(s).

    So it is indeed a new business model that both shops and customers must settlee into. But I vehemently oppose to accepting an item that was sold as "new", pay the associated price, and then find that it has been handled by who knows how many previous customers who may or may not have abused it in the process.
  19. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2012
    Real Name:
    Ciaran Reilly
  20. dogs100

    dogs100 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 12, 2011
    N Devon UK
    Real Name:
    My view is that buying to return is more than unethical, it is immoral and I won't do it. I guess that makes me sound an overly righteous prig but I can live with that :redface:

    I buy locally whenever I can and do my research the other times.
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