More heated “retail rental” debate going on over at Paul McNamara’s Networkworld blog. It’s stealing! No, it isn’t! Yes, it is! [Networkworld]


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  1. jpx72x says:

    Theft = breaking a rule (specifically, a law).
    Using the return policy to your advantage = following a rule.

    I guess you could argue that using a no questions return policy to “rent” violates the spirit of the return policy. However, if you were to truly believe this spirit argument, wouldn’t finding obscure tax exemptions for yourself also be considered theft? After all, the “spirit” of the Federal tax code is to take money from you to fund the government.

  2. BlinkyGuy says:

    Look, folks, it’s very simple.

    Retail Renting is theft and if you do it you’re a thief.

  3. balthisar says:

    Perhaps the greater question is, aren’t there unwritten rules that a society must follow? For example, it’s understood that you don’t utter “f*ck you” to every person you pass on a sidewalk. Certainly there are better examples. When it comes to retail returns, though, there are also unwritten rules. Only anti-social pricks insist on following nothing but “written rules.” For example, a butthole that drives at 55 mph in the left lane is following the letter of the law, but isn’t he an anti-social butthole for not observing the social, unwritten (in many places, anyway) rule that the left lane on the freeway is a passing lane?

    Perhaps the base question should NOT be whether it’s ethical, moral, unethical, or immoral, but rather whether we’re violating a social contract, social rules, unwritten rules when we perpetrate “retail renting.”

    After all, despite the written policy, the entire idea is to accept returns if — for some reason — you’re not happy with your purchase. Purchasing something for a single use with the intention (intentions are important) of using it for a specific purpose implies that you’re happy with item, lest you not buy it. Certainly you can be disappointed with the item, which gives you the social right to return it, but it’s important that you gave it a chance. An honest chance; not a “let me self rationalize” type of chance.

    The world is full of “spirit” and “social” rules. If we depended solely upon written rules and laws, our society would truly suck. To live in a community implies mutual cooperation, implies the acceptance of certain social norms, and “retail renters” (regardless of their self-deception) are people that choose to ignore the fact that they live in a community with others.

  4. matto says:

    Sweet Jesus. Not again!

  5. humphrmi says:

    @BlinkyGuy: It’s very simple to you. You clearly have a set of morals you follow, and that’s good for you. How are those morals pertinent to other people?

    BTW I don’t practice retail renting. I’m just saying, you seem pretty sure of yourself without making any sort of argument for your case.

  6. facework says:


    The revelation of Bayer’s recent greed-induced murder of 22,000 people completely forgotten.

    Ironic how people can bicker each other’s petty moral shortcomings to death while letting the big things slide.

  7. Primate says:

    The return policy is there for people who decide they don’t want an item or it’s broken.
    People who retail rent are just taking advantage of retailers and raising the cost of everything for all other shoppers. Eventually retailers are going to have restocking fees for everything.

  8. edrebber says:

    How many times have you seen merchandise on the shelf that was obviously returned or gotten home to find your item was not brand new after you opened it? If the store is selling used merchandise as new, they have no grounds to complain about retail renting.

  9. BrentNewland says:

    I imagine these people are going to be VERY surprised in the future. Retailers already rely on third parties to tell them if they should accept or reject a check; I wouldn’t be surprised of a third party monitored returns and denied a person returns EVERYWHERE because they rent items.

  10. humphrmi says:

    @BrentNewland: I don’t think anyone’s going to be surprised, quite frankly. I think they’re milking it out until the gravy train ends, then they’ll figure out some other way to work the system.

  11. pearlandopal says:

    @facework: Link?

  12. It’s not technically theft.
    It’s shitty consumer practice though.
    It makes life worse for everyone, except you in the short term. In the long term, everyone is worse off. The companies that used to have abusable return policies, the customers with real returns, the companies that have to take return of products because people want to rent.

    Lastly, to all the “vigilantes” trying to get their pound of flesh from “evil” corporations with terrible customer policies, I say this: You cannot hold the moral high ground when you do shady stuff that you have to write long explanations of the morality about.

  13. RandomHookup says:

    It’s probably not theft…just fraud, though there might be a statute that considers it theft. No way in hell is it ethical. Intent is the key thing here. Just like the difference between murder and manslaughter.

    There you have it…retail “renting” is murder!!!

  14. Hateshopping says:

    Renting implies the is a charge for the temporary use of an item. With the misnomer retail renting it is a case of two parties engaging in a transaction where one is doing it with the intent of reneging. There’s no ‘rental’ involved. You’re stealing–from the retailer and the person who ends up purchasing an item in good faith.