Stores selling used items as new?

I’m starting to wonder how many stores simply dump returned items back on the shelves for resale, without ever checking them. Perhaps it’s laziness, perhaps it’s deliberate. (i.e. "Maybe whoever buys this damaged item just won’t bother re-returning it…")

I’ve run into three cases now, where I’ve bought something from a store, only to find the item was very obviously used.

Canadian Tire
I bought one of those George Foreman style grills as a gift for my wife.

When she opened it, we got a bit of a surprise — the grill was covered in grease, crumbs, and bits of what looked like melted cheese. Obviously this was a used and returned item.

The response I received from them was hardly what I expected. It was very much a "Yeah?" response. I eventually worked my way up through several levels of bored retail staff who were not in the slightest bit interested with my frustration, and found myself speaking with a manager. You would think that the manager would at least be SLIGHTLY concerned — even if it was just a front to pacify an angry customer. Nope…

I returned it for a refund and bought a new one (I think it was new…) elsewhere.

This Halloween, I bought one of those skull-fogger machines. When I got it home and opened it up (this was the day before Halloween…) it was very clear that this, too, was something that had been used and returned. I imagine someone bought it for a Halloween party, and then simply returned it the next day.

What I ended up with, was a fogger machine with no fogger liquid, except for about an inch that was left in the machine. The instructions were gone, the bracket to mount the machine to something was gone, and the foam packing was all crushed.

Walmart’s response was certainly better than Canadian Tire’s, however. When I told them I didn’t want to return the fogger — I was just annoyed they’d sold me an incomplete and essentially useless product — they told me to keep the fogger, and still come into the store for a full refund. They also tried (so they said) to find a bottle of the fogging liquid at their other stores, and suggested some other stores to try.

Revy (Rona)
This time, I bought a tube of silicone for some outdoor work I was doing. The tube was already open and partially used when I opened it up. Since this was only a couple of dollars, and there was still enough silicone left in the tube, I never mentioned anything to Revy.

However, it really started to make me wonder about this pattern. How many stores simply dump returned items back on the shelves without bothering to check them? Even more interesting is the attitude some stores have toward customer service. Perhaps the Canadian Tire staff I dealt with didn’t feel they needed my business. I’d be surprised, however, if the execs at the top shared that same attitude.

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