Big retailers tracking customer returns and enforcing penalties

Companies tracking customer returns
(Micah Smith | WBTV)
(Micah Smith | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Returning items to a store too often could cause some companies to track customer's purchases.

According to a recent Business Insider report, Best Buy, Home Depot, Amazon and many more retailers are hiring third-party companies to track purchases by customers who have returned numerous items.

Some stores are penalizing those customers by banning them from returning or exchanging items for a year or more based on the company's policy.

According to a return tracking company called the Retail Equation, return fraud costs retailers up to $17 billion a year in the U.S.. To cut down on that, businesses have enlisted the help of the retail Equation and other companies that track returns.

While some companies say this is to cut down on return fraud, some customers worry this is an invasion of privacy. Some consumers have taken to social media to express their concerns that this is an invasion of privacy.

WBTV reached out to the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont and Western North Carolina to ask whether this is in fact an invasion of privacy and what rights consumers have when it comes to returning items.

"Whatever their policy is, the consumer has to be able to find that either posted in the store on the wall, printed on the receipt, in the fine print on the website. It has to be accessible and the consumer needs to be able to find it. But if that's the case, if it's in writing then they really can do whatever they want." Paige Castrodale, who is the BBB director of marketing and communication, said.

Castrodale said the best thing consumers can do is to read the store's return policy before buying.

If consumers feel a store's return policy isn't matching up with how they are being treated, the Better Business Bureau recommends reaching out to the company's customer service office first.

If the problem isn't resolved, Castrodale said the customer can file a complaint with the BBB.

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