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Allen Edmonds - Free return shipping...not actually free

Original Intent

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EDIT: Was contacted by AE customer service within 24 hours. Seems they were offering the return shipping during the holiday promotion, but no more. Issue was fully resolved to my satisfaction. Great service!


Recently bought my 3rd pair of shoes from AE. This time around, noticed the "FREE SHIPPING AND RETURNS" statement shown below the color/size selector on the page for the shoes purchased. I don't recall seeing this before, so I assumed AE is moving with the competition in offering free shipping both ways.

Example:
http://www.allenedmonds.com/aeonline/producti_SF1207C_1_40000000001_-1

Received the shoes, they don't fit. No problem. Free return shipping now, right? Wrong. Turns out, it's the same old policy of "pay it yourself". Am I being absurd for interpreting "Free Shipping and Returns" as free shipping both ways? Of course, if you click on the link, the small print does say shipping is paid by customer.

Thumbs down for deception, AE... a pox on thee, a pox on thee.
 
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atlrus

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No big deal. If one can afford to spend 300+ on the shoes they should have no problem paying the $7 return shipping. I am happy with the free shipping (when purchased). Now if they can get rid of the outofstate tax, that would be a plus.
 

reidrothchild

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I've never heard of free shipping both ways as a standard policy of any retailer for returns for refunds. I don't think AE has been deceptive. I assume the "free shipping & returns" refers to the free shipping to you and the lack of a restocking fee upon return? I agree that it's a bit unclear, but they say right on the web site that shipping costs are not reimbursed for returns. It would be unreasonable to expect the merchant in any online sale to pay two shipping charges on a single transaction. I could see maybe free return shipping (which some retailers offer and is very generous) if you're simply exchanging for a different size, but it's certainly not poor form for AE to not wish to lose $15-20 on a non-sale.
 
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Original Intent

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Told my wife the story. She has reaffirmed that I am ridiculous. Suppose I have become accustomed to Zappos's generous return policy.
 

reidrothchild

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Wow, I didn't realize Zappos offered free two-way shipping. I could see how that would spoil you. I don't mind the shipping charge to return something, as I do most of my online shopping from stores that would cost more than that in gas for me to drive to.
 

Soylent Green

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Free shipping for returns is really generous, but it's increasingly common. There's Zappos, of course, but also Bonobos.com and Ledbury.com. So I would have read the line the same way as the OP, but I also would not have cared much about paying the return shipping.
 

Michigan Planner

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I was also going to point out Bonobos does free shipping both ways but Soylent Green beat me to it.

Regardless, text on Allen Edmonds site saying "Free Shipping and Returns" does sound incorrect to me since you are paying the shipping yourself... possibly borderline deceptive. Luckily, I have a local Allen Edmonds store so if I were to buy something online, I'd just return it there.
 

reidrothchild

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I was also going to point out Bonobos does free shipping both ways but Soylent Green beat me to it.
Regardless, text on Allen Edmonds site saying "Free Shipping and Returns" does sound incorrect to me since you are paying the shipping yourself... possibly borderline deceptive. Luckily, I have a local Allen Edmonds store so if I were to buy something online, I'd just return it there.

"Possibly borderline deceptive." You sound like Peter King with that level of equivocation! I agree that it's a little unclear, but it doesn't say "free shipping ON returns," and as previously pointed out, it's made clear elsewhere on the site that return shipping is paid for by the customer. I'm still surprised that there are apparently a good number of retailers out there who can afford to deliver their merchandise to your doorstep and then retrieve that merchandise if you don't want it for whatever reason--free of charge. That has to be killing their margins. I mean, I get it if the product is defective, but Bonobos will pay return shipping if you order something and simply don't like the way it fits?

Edit: maybe this is a necessary evil for online only retailers for whom there's no B&M location to go and try something on before purchasing?
 
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zippyh

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I've never heard of free shipping both ways as a standard policy of any retailer for returns for refunds. I don't think AE has been deceptive. I assume the "free shipping & returns" refers to the free shipping to you and the lack of a restocking fee upon return? I agree that it's a bit unclear, but they say right on the web site that shipping costs are not reimbursed for returns. It would be unreasonable to expect the merchant in any online sale to pay two shipping charges on a single transaction. I could see maybe free return shipping (which some retailers offer and is very generous) if you're simply exchanging for a different size, but it's certainly not poor form for AE to not wish to lose $15-20 on a non-sale.

Where do they say that?

RETURNS

Products purchased on allenedmonds.com may be returned at any time, as long as the item is unused, accompanied by the packing slip and is part of our current catalog.

Returning Items by Mail:
All orders placed on allenedmonds.com are shipped with a packing slip that includes a return form on the backside. On this return form, please complete all required fields, indicate the reason for your return and enclose it with the item in the original packaging. To ensure your package arrives safely, we recommend sending your return via UPS or insured USPS Parcel Post to the following address:

Allen Edmonds
E-Returns Department
3820 Highway KW
Port Washington, WI 53074 USA

International customers must mark the package "US Goods Returned" in the description box on the airway bill when returning product.

Please allow 7-10 business days, once we have received your return, for processing your return. Please note shipping costs are not reimbursed.

Returning Items In Person:
You may also return products purchased through allenedmonds.com to any Allen Edmonds company-owned store. Be sure to bring along your packing slip and the original packaging.
BTW, RalphLauren.com and Mr Porter are also offering free return shipping. It's not that unusual.
 

CousinDonuts

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I'm learning towards the OP's first thought that the wording leads one to believe that return shipping is covered.

I bought a suit from Suit Supply in 2 sizes and returned the one that didn't fit. The package included a UPS return label and the suit was sent back to the Netherlands completely free to me. That type of service goes a long way in my book.
 

MacktasticGDogg

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E ran free return shipping during the holiday shopping season through January 2nd, 2012. There is a link on the shipping acknowledgement emails I got from AE to create free return UPS labels. I returned 2 purchases using this method and got the full refund both times. This offer is now expired, so AE is charging for return shipping again. I think while free returns is very nice, I don't find it unreasonable for retailers to charge for return shipping. It would impact whether I buy something in the first place, but I always make purchases with full knowledge of the return policy at the time.
 

ncdobson

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I got free exchange shipping for the Columbus Day sale last year. In that instance the shoe was defective, so it made sense for AE to pay for the exchange. I also would probably interpret "FREE SHIPPING AND RETURNS" to mean no charge for return shipping, but I wonder if, given the OP's experience, it means that there's no restocking fee.
 

Original Intent

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I was contacted by AE customer service and the issue was fully resolved. They did offer free return shipping during the holiday promotion (when I bought), but have since gone back to normal, hence the confusion.

Great customer service from AE!
 

reidrothchild

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Where do they say that?
BTW, RalphLauren.com and Mr Porter are also offering free return shipping. It's not that unusual.

It says: "Please note shipping costs are not reimbursed." Like I said, I don't see how these places can turn a decent profit offering free shipping both ways, but that's great that so many places do. I guess what they lose in shipping costs they make up for in sales from the fact that customers feel more comfortable making a purchase knowing they won't be stuck with shipping costs if it doesn't work out.
 

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