"Free Engraving" For Electronics Really Means "Ha, Ha, You Can't Return This Unless It's Defective"

Certain electronics retailers such as Apple and Sony offer engraving for laptops, cameras and MP3 players. It may seem like a nice service, but it really saves them lots of money. Why? Engraved products can’t be returned just because you couldn’t figure out how to use the product or because you realized that you spent too much on it and now have to eat peanut butter and corn tortilla sandwiches for a month to avoid defaulting on your student loan.

Returns caused by problems like “I can’t figure out how this works” and “buyer’s remorse” make up all but 5% of returns says the Wall Street Journal, and retailers are using engraving to fight back:

The company in 2006 added an option allowing consumers to engrave their name or other message on a Vaio computer. It expanded the program to its digital cameras last year. Sony says the program was started to let customers personalize products, but a side benefit for Sony is that engraved products can be returned only because of defects or other reasons that are the company’s fault.

Return rates on engraved Sony Vaios are negligible, compared with about 5% for non-engraved PCs, the company says, saving more than $1 million so far. “I have a feeling that people are understanding the condition that you can’t return it,” Mr. Abary says. “But also once they have engraved it, they feel like it’s a part of them.”

Electronics retailers spend a mind-boggling $13.8 billion a year reboxing and reselling the crap that you return, says the Wall Street Journal. Most returns are “because a product was too confusing to use.”

The War On Returns [WSJ](Thanks, Robert!)
(Photo: gothick matt )