Target Charges Me Restocking Fee On Returned Netbook, Resells It Before It Hits Shelves

Many consumers believe restocking fees on returns, which can be 15 percent of the purchase price or more, are a con run by retailers to discourage people from lugging their unwanted stuff back into the store. But theoretically the fees are at least somewhat merited, given the fact that the store may have to sell the item at an open-box discount and spend the manpower to ready the item for resale.

Reader S writes in with an example of Target having little excuse to issue a 15 percent restocking charge. When S returned a netbook, Target immediately sold it, presumably at full price, banking that 15 percent free and clear.

S writes:

I purchased the Acer Netbook from Target on Sunday for my son. I then found out that my mother had already purchased it for him so I decided to take mine back to the store today.

It was still in the bag with the free sleeve and I had the receipt. When I took it back, they told me my refund would be less a 15% restocking fee for electronics. I didn’t argue and was refunded (less the 15% of course).

Then, the lady behind me told the cashier that she had just been back to electronics and the store was out of them and she wanted to purchase that one if she could.

So the sale was made and she got the netbook instead.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but should I be docked the “restocking” fee if it never even left the counter I returned it on? It was returned for less than 5 minutes before being sold.

I asked the cashier to refund me the balance of my purchase but they said that the 15% fee is standard for ANY electronics returns and it’s not negotiable.

What rate, if any, do you think is fair for a retailer to charge for restocking returns?