We’ve all experienced the joys of online shopping: the tiresome trawling through endless webpages, flipping and flopping over shipping charges, then finally pressing ‘Complete Transaction’ and rushing immediately to your window even though PostNL could take days to arrive.

Then, your item appears at your doorstep—hurrah! You tear open the packaging, and throw on your new clothing item or plug in your new gadget: and, the excitement fizzles. It looks wrong on your body, it doesn’t turn on, or maybe it’s not even the right item.

Well, congratulations, you may have just scored yourself a free, unwanted object! Trends show that more and more Dutch companies are letting you keep items rather than go to the trouble of return shipping. Instead of ‘you broke it you buy it,’ web-stores now prefer ‘you hate it, you keep it’ – and you’ll even get your money back.

The study by Financieel Dagblad (FD) found that dozens of consumers reported they were allowed to keep things they wanted to return regularly—even if it just because of a change of mind.

Why are web-shops not taking items back?

The Dutch are notorious penny-counters: so why don’t they want their stock back? The answer lies in the postage costs.

“It is probably an economic consideration, because the costs of a return add up fast, especially since webshops have chosen to cancel the shipping and return costs,” explains FD journalist Lisa van der Velden. “It becomes too expensive for them to process returns.”

However, electronic retailer Coolblue maintains that it’s the environmental aspect. Fewer returns means fewer vans on the road. But, Van der Velden doesn’t agree with Coolblue’s explanation.

“If you tell people that they can keep it, they will order more often and you will also get more vans,” she writes.

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In fact, web-shops don’t even like to discuss the concept. While Bol.com customers said they had experienced not having to send back a return, Bol.com flat-out denied that this took place.

What can we do instead?

If you’ve been watching a bit too much Marie Kondo and know that you don’t really need that unwanted product, you can still make a sustainable (read: smart) decision.

Web-shops like BuyBay takes items that you’ve ‘returned’, clean them up if necessary, and then sells them to a new home. It’s like a second-hand shop, for first-hand items, reports RTL Nieuws.

“Our mission is to prevent waste,” says Thijs Bosgoed of BuyBay. “We may open and clean a product that arrives at us so that it is ready for the next customer. We sell it online and in stores.”

Have you ever not had to return an item but been refunded the money? What do you think of the practice? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Artem Beliaikin/Flickr

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