One of the biggest gimmicks for products these days is Money Back Guarantees. Any product that has a hint that it might not work, always backs it up with a guarantee. Some of them are 30 days, others 60 or 90. Some products even come with a lifetime guarantee. Some offer you double or triple your money back. But do these really work, or is it a lot of hot air?
Money back guarantees originated with the mail order business, where to lure in sales manufacturers had to promise the customers that if they weren’t happy with what they received, they could always ship it back to get their money back. This was essentially needed because if they bought an item from the local store, they could always bring it back if it didn’t work.
These days money back guarantees are a staple for many of the products you’ll see advertised on TV. It’s in place to provide a sense of comfort, so that theoretically you can try a product out, and if it’s a total sham you can return it with not to much harm done to your wallet or dignity.
The claim is rather simple, if you don’t like it you can return it and your money will be refunded. The guarantee can vary the length of time you have to use it, or can be limited to certain product failure, or can be a total no questions asked kind of return policy.
The hype comes from the fact that people will value a product or business more highly because there is a guarantee in place. A guarantee is as good as a company, not the other way around.
Marketers know that for the majority of people, once they get their product in the home, it’s going to stay there. If they have to turn a small percentage of units from some diligent buyers, it’s still worth it to the overall bottom line, and the returns are easily absorbed financially.
To take advantage of a money back guarantee you usually have to eat the shipping costs. You also won’t get the shipping and handling costs you originally paid. This is usually covered in the guarantee with the simple phrase, less shipping and handling.
This is what trips up most people when taking advantage of money back guarantees. If the product isn’t highly priced, you may not even get the urge to return it. You might even forget that it has a money back guarantee. If you want your money back you have to take action in order to initiate the transaction. Typically this involves calling a customer service department and obtaining a return code so you can get properly credited.
Money back guarantees are nice to have in place, and almost every tangible product has one these days. Some companies are trustworthy, and will honor the guarantee to the letter, and be very lax about what they’ll accept back. Other companies will put lots of terms and conditions in the fine print for their guarantee, and will look for any way that you voided the guarantee, or didn’t jump through the proper hoops. Still others just won’t process the guarantee, and will simply keep you money whether or not you return the product.
Do Money Back Guarantees Really Work?
If you’re dealing with a legit business, then they’ll likely honor your guarantee and accept the product back, and most companies do this. What’s more likely to happen is failure on your part to remember that there was a guarantee, or follow through with what’s required to obtain it.
If you really want a product, you shouldn’t let money back guarantees persuade or dissuade you from buying it. In the long term it probably won’t come up, and if it does it’s probably not worth your time to return it for a refund.
If it’s a high-quality company that would honor the guarantee, you’ll probably find that the product works as described. Likewise, if it’s an inscrutible company that won’t give you your money back, you’ll find that their product is just as lousy and be out of luck.
All product purchases carry some risk, so just realize that and use your best judgment when deciding what to buy. If it looks like something that will fall apart in its first month of use, pass on it.