On the weekend, I returned a faulty pressure washer to the Wal-Mart where I purchased it in May. It had only been used twice (successfully) before it broke on Saturday. In a highly uncharacteristic move, I had actully saved the receipt, so I figgered I was good to go.
Well, I got to the store and stood in line and everyone was very pleasant, but no joy. Wal-Mart’s policy, clearly stated, is a 90 day return period, which I was clearly past. I wasn’t upset or anything – I would have been pleasantly surprised to actually receive a refund, but I thought maybe a store credit or something. Whatever.
It got me thinking, though. What if Wal-Mart had a no-questions-asked 1-year return policy? And what if that really was how it worked? What if you simply handed in your item and receipt, and you were handed cash money by a smiling person? (And they would be smiling cause they would’t have to argue!) And what if EVERYONE knew that’s how it works? You could even have closed-circuit TVs thoughout the store showing people happily getting their money back!
Would it be good PR? Yes. Would some people think it was gimmicky? Yes. But would it help sales? I think maybe, because people would be less afraid of buyers’ remorse – they’d be secure in the knowledge that they could always take it back.
I have a tiny bit of data to back this idea up. We used to offer a 3 month money-back guarantee for our software application Maximizer. When we raised the allowed-return period to a year, the total number of returns fell. We’re not sure why – we’d like to think that users had more time to learn to love the software, but it was probably because they just forgot. Regardless, the knowledge that they had the ability to get a full refund for a whole year did help sales.
Aside #1: Notice the new logo? It’s kinda Twitterish, no? Is this the softer, gentler, hipper Wal-Mart?
Aside #2. How long will I be able to consecutively title my blog posts with words that begin with “W”?