shedding light on shopping

Sometimes you just want your money back. The last time I went to IKEA I had the rather distasteful task of returning something outside their standard return policy. One item had an opened carton and another was past it's return date. Having been in customer service myself for 30 years, I'd like to pass along a few how-to-return how-tos that might be of service.

First, don't hesitate. Stores know that no matter how good their merchandise, their displays, their sales people, and their prices, the first order of business is to get you into the store. If you return something, you will probably buy something. For this reason, any store worth its stuff always welcomes returns. So go for it.

Second, be reasonable. During my stint at The Container Store, a woman brought in a piece of Elfa she had used for 17 years. She said it was beat up. Y'think? But she did get her money back. I dare say, most stores will not be as accommodating as that. Unless the product has failed, merchandise should be in good condition, still on the shelves, in its packaging and with that all important receipt.

Third, honey catches more flies than vinegar. People who storm in angry, arrogant, demanding and threatening will get zilch - or thrown out. Well behaved children get the icecream. When I returned my purchases to IKEA, the first thing I said was: "I screwed up" and they were eating out of the palm of my hand from there on. Nice guys can finish first.

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Apartment Therapy previews new products at IKEA