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Survey: Consumers have a lot of reasons for electronics product returns

BY Dan Berthiaume

Consumers often return electronics purchases, even when the item is not defective.

According to a new survey of more than 3,000 U.S. consumers from visual customer assistance provider TechSee, 41% of respondents have returned a non-defective electronics item in the last 12 months. The study also revealed 65% of respondents decide to return non-defective electronic products early on, citing frustration and/or confusion during product unboxing/unpackaging, installation, and first use.

Respondents most often returned small home appliances, such as blenders and coffee machines (28.5%) followed by entertainment products, including speakers, TVs, and gaming consoles (25%); small gadgets (20%); phones and tablets (15%); major utility appliances, such as washing machines and refrigerators (6%); and home office products (5%).

Fifty-four percent of surveyed consumers agreed that they would return an electronics product if they found it difficult to install, while nearly 70% said they would also return it if they found it difficult to operate. However, 72% of respondents said good customer service would dissuade them from returning a product.

Many participants expressing a propensity to return product also stated they had never seen or interacted with the product – physically or virtually via video or augmented reality – prior to purchasing; only 16% had the ability to “try before they buy.”

Viewing product manuals and still images during unpackaging, installation, and first use was not enough to prevent a return, according to survey results. Only 23% of respondents said that an image, such as a product manual picture, would deter them from returning the product. Rather, most expressed a preference for live video consultation with an expert (44%).

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