Hobby Lobby's Return Policy: We Don't Have To Take Back Anything

Michael says the first bullet point on the Return Policy plaque at his local Hobby Lobby (and also online) reads, “If for any reason you need to return merchandise purchased at Hobby Lobby, please return the product with the original sales receipt within 60 days of purchase.” That sounds great–you can shop with confidence that they’ll handle returns without too much trouble–but the reality is that the store can and will refuse any return, with or without a receipt, if someone there thinks it might lose them money in the short term.

I purchased an $8 electric pencil sharpener for my soon-to-be-5-year-old daughter. Before giving it to my daughter, I cut into the clear plastic clamshell, loaded up batteries and tried a pencil. To my disappointment, the blade would spin and sharpen, and then break the tip and then continue spinning… as long as you kept the pencil inserted.

I felt that my daughter wouldn’t know when to remove the pencil and it would eat through every pencil in our house.

I emptied the batteries and shavings, repackaged and located the receipt. I returned to my North Austin Hobby Lobby and explained the situation to a cashier. I was honest, brief and smiley with my explanation. As I reach for my debit card for the return, a different employee named [redacted] comes over and states that they couldn’t take back the sharpener.

[The employee] said that the the store couldn’t take back the product because it was opened and wasn’t broken. And that if they took it back, they would have to discount it, and they would lose money. She concluded her speech by pointing at the last bullet of a nearby Return Policy plaque: “We reserve the right to limit or refuse to accept the return of certain products and non-receipted items.”

I promptly retorted by pointing out the first bullet of said plaque: “If for any reason you need to return merchandise purchased at Hobby Lobby, please return the product with the original sales receipt within 60 days of purchase.”

I told her that I had a reason as the sharpener did not suit my daughter’s needs and safety. But [she] stuck to her guns and said no return.

I left the store disappointed, looked up Corporate Customer Service in the parking lot, called and left a voicemail. Two days later, I get a call today (Monday 9/13/10) and ultimately speak to [a representative] from Customer Service. I re-state my case to her; she tells me she will call the store and call me back. An hour later, she calls back and reiterates all of [the employee’s] lines and refuses a return. I mention that they should consider revisiting their return policy language. She replies that she would tell the appropriate people/department.

So in the end, they have lost a customer for life over $8.

The net takeaway: Regardless of whether you have a legitimate excuse or not, Hobby Lobby can refuse to accept any return.