Record number of Americans returning electronics products

Consumer Reports News: December 14, 2011 03:08 PM

More consumers are choosing to return electronics gadgets, according to a new study. So you might want to check return policies for restocking fees and the like before you pick out pricey electronics items as holiday gifts this year.

The study, from the management-consulting firm Accenture, reports that the rate of returns of electronics products has increased over the past three to five years, for 57 percent of the retailers surveyed and 43 percent of the manufacturers surveyed. Climbing return rates are not due only to faulty or defective products though: 68 percent of returns are characterized as "no trouble found," and 27 percent of returns reflect "buyer's remorse."

If you are planning to buy friends and family the latest electronics gadget for the holidays, you can check out Where to buy electronics, from the December issue of Consumer Reports, and our Ratings of electronics stores (Ratings available to subscribers). And Return rules at 8 big retailers, from the January issue of Consumer Reports also has helpful information about the various return policies at big-name stores.

Accenture focused on the cost of such returns for retailers and manufacturers and estimates that U.S. consumer electronics manufacturers, carriers and retailers will spend close to $17 billion in order to process returned products this year, which includes repairing, reboxing, restocking and reselling.

If you're returning an electronics items, take a close look at the product's return policy, because they can differ from one product to the next,as well as from one company to the next, as our Ratings of electronics stores show.

"Manufacturers and retailers would do more to differentiate their customer service by helping consumers understand, set up, use and optimize the products they purchase," Mitch Cline, managing director of Accenture's electronics and high tech group said in a press release.

Study: Costly electronics product returns on the rise [USA Today]

Maggie Shader

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