Three Costs Of Returning An Online Order

online order, online order returns, online return policy
I’m a huge fan of letting my son learn financial lessons from everyday situations, and he found himself in the middle of a good one recently. Although my parental instincts to help kicked in and took away some of the lesson, he still got a taste of the consequences of not being extra sure about an online order.

My son informed me a few weeks ago that he ordered a hooded sweatshirt sold by an online gaming community of which he’s a fan. He already had a t-shirt, but really liked the sweatshirt and he had learned that they were going to discontinue selling them. Since he had already saved the agreed upon amount from his paycheck, I just nodded my head at the explanation of a $50 purchase from his checking account. He also informed me that he ordered a medium, even though is usual size is an adult large. He was sure that it would fit as a friend of his had stated the sweatshirts run a little big.

When the sweatshirt came in the mail, his initial excitement turned to disappointment as he tried on his new sweatshirt. It was way too small. Fortunately the packing list included directions for returning the item should it not be satisfactory in any way. But, he didn’t want to just return it, he wanted to exchange it for a larger size.

After trading emails with the website, we learned they don’t do exchanges. The return of the original sweatshirt, and the purchase of the larger size would have to be treated as separate transactions.

For my son, this had several consequences:

Short Term Cash Constrained

He was afraid that the sweatshirt would be sold out soon, so he immediately ordered the larger size. He already had paid $49.99 for the first sweatshirt, and now had to pay $49.99 for a second sweatshirt. The first purchase amount may not be refunded for up to 30 days. For that time period, my son will be short about $50 from his usual cash flow.


To return the first sweatshirt, he’ll have to take the time to go to the post office or a UPS shipping center to send the sweatshirt back to the seller. I insisted he have the package tracked to ensure we could determine if it had made it’s way back to the seller.

Shipping Cost

The seller will not pay to return the sweatshirt. That cost will be incurred by my son. He’ll be out the shipping cost permanently.

My son and I discussed all of this, and the importance of checking the size guide and being a little more thorough before ordering something online. The only problem was, three days later the sweatshirt was still hanging on the kitchen chair. I couldn’t stand it anymore, and took the sweatshirt to a UPS shipping center.

When he got home from school, I handed him a receipt for $14.02. I had shipped it back for him, but he was still responsible for the bill.

I guess two out of three lessons isn’t bad.

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Brock Kernin

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