I’m not big on returning things, even when they don’t fit, or even break. That’s pretty dumb, of course.

Then there’s opposite approach; buying something with the intention of returning it. People do it with clothing, luggage, you name it. And it’s becoming easier, with bricks-and-mortar stores offering looser return policies to compete with the wide-open return offers of online stores.

If it were just the stores that took the hit for this “free rental” game, that would be bad enough, but retail workers are often paid on commission, and when an item is returned, they get that commission deducted from their check.

Rachel Abrams of the NY Times reports in “Liberal Return Policies for Consumers Can Reduce Retail Workers’ Pay” that while Macy’s used to have a 10-day return policy, there’s now no time limit for returns, and commission can be deducted from workers for any return within 6 months of purchase.

And American consumers are taking advantage of these policies, with returns up 53% over five year to $248 billion in 2014. So it’s no surprise that this has become a contract issue for the unions negotiating for these workers.

So, if you’re tempted to “borrow” something from a store, remember that you’re not only taking advantage of that business, you could be hurting the person who thought they sold it to you.


Join HourVoice