I Can’t Return This Christmas Gift Without Upsetting My Mom

Lies can get you in trouble. Even when you mean well, sometimes they catch up with you and you get stuck in an impossible position. That’s what John learned when he lied by omission about a Christmas gift to spare his mom’s feelings, and is now stuck with an expensive GoPro camera that he can’t return.

Here are the facts. John’s mom ordered a GoPro wearable/mountable digital camera for him directly from the company for Christmas. She didn’t know that he already owns one, but he decided that it was best not to tell her that. “My mother is a little bit sensitive to issues like displeasing her only son on Christmas,” he wrote to Consumerist. “I am empathetic to her sensitivity, so I feigned excitement about my new GoPro camera, and even forwarded her some videos that I shot with my original GoPro to show my appreciation.” He knows his own mother better than we do: maybe this was the wisest choice in the end.

John didn’t send this to us as a family problem, though. He sent this problem to us as a consumer issue. If everything had gone according to John’s plan, he would have returned the second camera directly to GoPro for store credit and used the money to buy some interesting accessories for the GoPro he already had. “I would really like to have a suction-cup mount, the extended battery, and maybe the wrist mount,” he wrote. These accessories would allow him to take even more exciting videos that he could then show to his mother, and everyone would be happy in the end. Only someone stood between John and that dream: GoPro.

Specifically, their return policy, which doesn’t allow exchanges for store credit. If he returns the camera, the amount that his mother spent will be credited back to his mother’s credit card. “Worst case, this course of action would out me as a liar to my mom,” John notes. Best case: his mom doesn’t notice the refund and doesn’t get upset, but John also doesn’t get a present.

We checked with GoPro to see whether this really is their return policy. Indeed, it is. A company representative explained that they can’t bend the policy, and it exists to avoid credit card fraud.

“I would like to suggest that companies without Christmas-friendly return policies should not be allowed to sell products as Christmas gifts,” John suggested to Consumerist. That would be nice, but impossible to enforce. What about those very organized people who shop for their holiday gifts all year? What about birthday gifts? Would companies quiz customers about the intended recipient of their purchases, and refuse to sell to anyone planning to give the item as a gift? That would be silly.

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