by Matilda Charles
Just when so many of us are struggling financially with the rising cost of everything, here comes yet another way to separate us from our dollars: Many businesses are now charging a fee to return items purchased online from them.
I’m not going to name names or point fingers here, but know that it’s the big name companies that are doing this.
The return fees seem to range from $5 to nearly $10 per return. You don’t have much choice, because they already have your money (from when you paid for the item) and will neatly deduct their fee from your refund.
So, beware what you purchase online. Try to be sure that you’ll want to keep it. Check your state’s consumer protection office to see if it’s even legal to charge a restocking fee (www.usa.gov/ state-consumer). There might be a question about whether you were notified at the time of purchase.
It’s not just online places that sell us items that want extra money from us; it’s places where we actually go to pick things up, such as fast-food carryout locations when we grab up a cup of coffee on the way home. It’s called tip creeping, and it’s spreading everywhere.
Be cautious when you check out with your credit card. The establishment might have an automatic tip amount selected, and if you click too quickly you could be saying yes.
I’ve even heard—and this is disturbing—that some people who do not tip are subjected to ugly comments from staff. Don’t give in! Stand your ground. If you feel pushed to give a tip for carryout and don’t wish to, then don’t. Tip creeping is meant to make us feel guilty for not tipping.
What merchants will eventually figure out, if they make enough of us uncomfortable, is that we’ll spend our dwindling dollars elsewhere—or not spend them at all.