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Too hard (to return) basket: 9 million Aussies fail to take back unwanted purchases

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Millions of Aussies are wasting money on unwanted online purchases they don't return, according to new research by Finder.

A nationally representative survey of 1,000 respondents revealed 46% of Australians – equivalent to 8.9 million people – have failed to return an item they bought online even though they were dissatisfied with it.

Almost 1 in 3 (27%) online shoppers didn't return an item due to sheer laziness, admitting returning an item they'd bought online "seemed like too much work".

The survey found 17% of Aussies wanted to return an online purchase but didn't want to pay for postage, while 8% of shoppers admit the return period had expired by the time they got around to returning a purchase.

A significant 92% of Australians have shopped online – a trend that was fast-tracked during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Sarah Megginson, senior editor of money at Finder, said online shoppers are practically waving goodbye to their money.

"The amount of unwanted purchases lying around in people's homes is staggering.

"Whether it's ill-fitting clothing, something that didn't quite look how you imagined it would or an item that doesn't work – millions of Aussies are ending up with things they don't really want."

Megginson said as online sales boom, more Aussies are getting caught out by returns policies.

"Retailers are not required to refund you for a change of mind, so if you're spending a decent amount of money, it's crucial to read the fine print before you make a purchase you might end up regretting.

"Shopping in-store could save you the hassle of returning something you bought online if you decide you don't want it.

"Keep tabs on your return deadline if you make a significant purchase, so you don't miss your window of opportunity. When you buy, set a quick reminder in your calendar for 3 weeks' time, so you can return it if it doesn't work out.

"If you happen to miss the deadline for returns, or you're unable to get a refund for a change of mind, there are plenty of marketplaces available online to resell your goods," Megginson said.

The research found 6% of Australians had re-sold a purchase instead of returning it to the online retailer.

Have you ever failed to return an item you were dissatisfied with that you'd ordered online?
No, I've never been dissatisfied with any online purchases31%
Yes, returning it seemed like too much work27%
Yes, I didn't want to pay for postage17%
No, I've returned all online purchases I've been dissatisfied with15%
Yes, I forgot to return it10%
No, I've never shopped online8%
Yes, the return period had expired8%
Yes, I plan to resell the item online instead6%
Source: Finder nationally representative survey of 1,000 respondents in January 2022

From 17 March, Aussies can grab savings on a whole bunch of storefronts thanks to Afterpay Day 2022.

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