Results from a study just released by global consulting company, Accenture, find that only about five percent of all consumer electronics product returns are due to actual failures or defects. The rest of the returns can be categorized as "no trouble found" (68 percent) or "buyer's remorse" (27 percent).
The study also finds that "the average return rate for [consumer electronics] devices ranges from 11 to 20 percent." This amounts to approximately $13.8 billion being spent by "US consumer electronics manufacturers, communication carriers and electronics retailers" for "assessing, repairing, reboxing, restocking and reselling returned merchandise." This adds up to as much as six percent of manufacturers' costs and chips away at roughly three percent of retail sales of consumer electronics.
The study goes on to make several suggestions to manufacturers and retailers as to how to reduce these costs by doing things such as improving product design, better packaging and documentation, customer education, and better educating sales people. Not only can such improvements potentially reduce the number of product returns and therefore reduce costs for manufacturers and retailers, but consumers would benefit as well by purchasing products that better meet their expectations.
As manufactures and retailers wake up to discover that they are hemorrhaging money with returns, they will be sure to respond in ways to help to reduce these losses. Hopefully, many will adopt at least some of the above-mentioned practices. It is certain, however, that some will find ways to make it more difficult for consumers to return products in the first place: Caveat emptor.