Posted by Alex Jackson on March 10, 2017
Wardrobing if you’re not familiar with the term, you are probably all too familiar with the practice as a retailer. Wardrobing is the practice of purchasing an item wearing it once or twice and then returning it. This is probably one of the number one types of fraud that buyers will attempt because frankly to a lot of people it seems harmless. What most consumers fail to realize is that this is not a victimless crime, you as the seller are responsible for the return shipping cost, plus you are getting back an item in a different condition than the item that was sent, reducing the value of the merchandise significantly a loose-loose seller scenario. As a retailer selling in marketplaces like eBay and Amazon you are also all too aware that the deck is heavily stacked against the seller when attempting to fight back on this type of fraudulent return which can sometimes be difficult if not impossible to prove. So what can you as a seller do to combat this practice? A few things and they all center on one important thing documentation! Remember in the eyes of the mega marketplace sites the buyer is always right making the seller always wrong but if you can provide the proof to back up your claim you stand a much better chance of getting a ruling in your favor. So what sort of documentation should you have? Well for starters pictures of the item sold in particular close up shots of all tags and packaging. Your most likely taking these to list the item in the first place but these could prove invaluable in the case you get the item returned in a condition other than the one it was sent in.
Tags removed? Or clumsily reattached somewhere other than where initially attached all good indicators of tampering. Stains or signs of distress? Maybe a missing button? Close up shots of before and after are a great way to catch that criminal. Now it’s also very likely that when you confront the crooked buyer or contest the return with the website you may run into this brick wall of an argument, but how do we know that you the seller did not do the damage? Easy take pictures when that package is returned particularly of the return label and pictures as you open the packaging showing that it is still sealed remember the goal is to document that the item sent was not in the same condition as the returned item.
A few other things to keep in mind is to make sure before and after pictures are as identical as possible if you took a close up of the top button of a dress shirt before and now that button is missing take the same close up in the same environment with the same lighting don’t let a customer tell you that it’s a different item just because the color looks different as a result of the lighting. Also if the customer refuses to admit the damage and you feel like you are getting nowhere contact the customer service department for the respective website before escalating the case online. It’s better to present your well documented proof to a human being rather than letting a computer automatically rule against you. There is sadly no perfect fix to this problem and it’s definitely a headache fighting with eBay or Amazon over these fraudulent charges, so pick your battles maybe set a dollar threshold under $20 is it really worth the headache? Over $100? That’s definitely worth the aggravation of fighting it.