Are return policies ruining your life?
I’m guessing you're laughing at your computer, “Are you kidding me? I need return policies. I couldn’t live without them. I don’t even shop somewhere unless I know I can return things! You’re crazy lady, return policies are the best thing since sliced bread!”
I lovingly and politely agree to disagree and let me tell you why.
Let me start from the beginning and first admit to you that I am a recovering return-a-holic.
I realized my life had become unmanageable to my compulsion recently when I was looking at the goals I had written out for my life, things I wanted to do or learn or accomplish. They included things like: meditate daily, take a pottery class, cook dinner more often, etc.
And then I looked at my day. How had I just spent my day? Well I did not meditate or work out or sign up for that pottery class. I bought things and I returned things. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Nordstrom, Zara, returns to the UPS store (from online shopping), etc. A race to get all these things returned before my 30 days were up.
This is what I did. It consumed (literally and figuratively) almost my entire day.
And I am not alone. I would roughly estimate 80-90% of my clients and friends are stuck in the same buy-return cycle. We are constantly buying and returning.
Even as we mindlessly scroll through Facebook and Instagram we are shopping. If you follow an Instagramer with over 15,000 followers, I promise you, you are shopping. And notice how Facebook has those shoes you’ve been eyeing hovering in the right-hand corner of your feed?
But, I digress. Return policies. Specifically for clothes. Bad. Horrible. Serious time sucker.
Let me break it down. You set aside some time to go shopping. Or more realistically, you don’t. You squeeze it into your day between work and kids and homework.
You don’t really even know what you’re shopping for, but you know you need some new clothes. You’ve just stared at your totally full closet and determined you have “nothing to wear”. So here you are, in the store with limited time. You’ve found a couple of items. You try them on. You like a couple (maybe), but do you looooove them? You’re not sure. You think you do. Then the magic words come pouring into your mind, “well, I’ll just buy it and if I don’t like it, I’ll return it”.
You know immediately this isn’t the answer, but you do it anyway.
You feel happy-ish with your new purchases and the whole drive home you wonder if you’ve found the perfect new shirt (or whatever it was). The bag goes on the floor in your closet. Maybe you actually hang the clothes up. Maybe you try it on for a friend/sister/daughter to get their opinion. Or maybe it just sits in the bag. Until day 25. Return day is nearing. It’s now or never. You really need to decide. You try it on again. Over yoga pants and a sports bra.
I”m just not loving it.
“Well it must not be right then”, you tell yourself. And you throw the bag back in your car. As you’re driving back to the store you berate yourself, “why do I always do this?” “I’m so ridiculous” “why can’t I just find something that I like?” “nothing looks good on me” “maybe if I just lost a little bit more weight”, etc. The mental berating continues.
Then you arrive at the store. As you’re walking to the checkout counter, you pass a cute top. You love it. You think. You say to yourself, “you know what, I don’t have time to try it on, but I’m sure this one will work great, and if not…..
I can always return it if!
Do you see the pattern here?
Do you see how much mental and physical energy it takes up in your life? Lots!
I speak from experience.
If you’re still not sure if you’re a return-aholic, I’ll lay down this challenge. Go shopping at a boutique that either has no return policy or has a return within 7 days for store credit only policy. Can you do it? Does just mentioning the idea of this cause panic to rise from the pit of your stomach? If so, I think we know the problem.
Today you can take control of your life. I ask you to make a vow with me. Repeat after me. “Today. And everyday. When I shop. I will buy things that I love. I will not return them. I will break the cycle”.
And the good news is there is hope.
Creating a life you love all starts with your time and how you use it. At the end of your day today, look at where and how you spent your time and if it’s not aligned with what you want for you life. Make changes. Today.
If you’re a return-a-holic, try these changes:
- Return all clothes with tags still on them and put yourself on a a 30 day shopping freeze. 60 days if you dare!
- When you do resume shopping, set a specific day and time aside and have a plan for what you really need to buy.
- If you need help making decisions, bring someone with you: a friend, a stylist, etc to keep you honest.
- When you get home, take off the tags and throw away the receipt.
Kayla Farhang is a life stylist and motivational speaker that works with her clients to create lives filled with confidence, passion and purpose.