Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
10/14/2009
06:28 PM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
Commentary
50%
50%

Too Many Unhappy Returns? You're Blacklisted!

How's this for a new customer service angle? If retailers get tired of your returns history, you might be out of luck next time you shop for something online.

How's this for a new customer service angle? If retailers get tired of your returns history, you might be out of luck next time you shop for something online.The real kicker? It will cost you $99 to get off the blacklist, in addition to what you might have to shell out to aggrieved retailers, before you can shop with participating online retailers again.

Honestly, I can't wait to see if any retailers sign up for this; it's a sure sell signal to the market, and I'd suggest their landlords start lining up new tenants. (I asked BadCustomer if any retailers have signed up so far, but never got a response.)

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retailers lose $11.8 billion per year in fraudulent returns, credit card charge-backs and other forms of so-called "friendly fraud."

Most retailers (88.9%) have had stolen merchandise returned to stores within the past year. Retailers also report being victimized by returns of merchandise originally purchased with fraudulent or stolen tender (74.1%) and returns using counterfeit receipts (45.7%)… [And] the return of non-defective, used merchandise -- especially in the apparel and electronics categories -- continues to be problematic for retailers.

BadCustomer.com (the name alone makes you feel better already, doesn't it?) is focusing on the charge-back issue, which particularly plagues online retailers; the vendor claims to have launched the "Internet's largest shared database of frequent charge-back customers."

BadCustomer.com (I still can't believe they're using this name) is offering the screening service free to all online retailers, and will generate revenue by charging "unscrupulous or just plain lazy customers" who don't bother actually returning unwanted items.

According to BadCustomer.com, customers' names are scrubbed against the blacklist when they're trying to order from a participating retailer's site, and if their name is flagged, the purchase is declined and they're redirected to BadCustomer.com, where someone wags a finger at them.

Okay, I made up the part about the wagging finger, but the rest of this is all true. "Customers are unaware they are even being checked against the database unless they're on the list," BadCustomer.com CEO Brien Heideman said in a statement.

BadCustomer.com (seriously, can you imagine a retailer even using a service run by a company that insults their customers so directly) won't tell me how consumers even end up on the blacklist to begin with.

The company's own FAQ, however, contradicts the CEO, since what they're telling retailers that "studies show that customers are 98% less likely to issue a chargeback if they know they'll be put on a blacklist for doing so."

Who needs Big Brother anyway, when you've got an online superego looking over your shoulder?

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