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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I live and learn I suppose.

I am (or was?) a big fan of Defender - they have good products, good prices and generally good customer service. However, as it turns out - they don't take returns on electronics. Perhaps this was a common knowledge - but it is certainly new to me.

Last week I bought Garmin Colorado 400C from Defender. Curiously, right before making a purchase I considered buying from another retailer (who I usually use for my photography and diving gear and such). They had it for $10 less (and they certainly take returns, no questions asked). I figured, though, that I'd rather give my money to Defender - $10 is not much to pay extra and they usually did right by me, so what the heck.

It also somewhat disappointed me that the best they could come up with during customer service call is that "they have a Wall st. lawyer in the family that owns Defender and he wrote their return policy" so it must be correct. I am sure it is legally airtight, but this isn't what store policy should be about - and in any case a "lawyer in the family" defense is not something I personally like during a routine customer service call.


Well, I suppose I have no one to blame but myself. Still, caveat emptor. If you purchase an electronic device (such as GPS) from Defender, open a box (mind you, it is not a wrapped or sealed box either) and then decide to send it back - they don't want it. Not even with a restocking fee. No way, no how. It is yours forever (unless may be manufacturer will take it). This is pretty darn unusual for an electronic retailer return policy. This is not entirely obvious from their return policy either (though now that I know where they stand I agree that this is what their policy means - that lawyer certainly did a good job for them).

I am not going to say that I will never buy anything from Defender again - but I am most certainly going to buy my electronics elsewhere. Their loss, frankly, considering how much I spend on that stuff.
 

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Here is Defender's Return Policy. The way I read it, you should have been able to return the electronics "within 10 days from receipt". Was the issue that you had passed 10 days?

RETURN POLICY
Return Policy:
We want you to be a satisfied customer, and we need your help to maintain our wide selection, name brands, low prices, and large on-hand inventory.

10-Day Returns:
Electronics, software, and electronic charts in their original packaging and ready-to-be-sold condition may be returned within 10 days from receipt for a full refund of merchandise price.

Non-Returnable:
Inflatable boats, outboard motors, life rafts, kayaks, trailers, cut goods, custom canvas, products with a broken seal, clearance items, close-outs, discontinued and specially ordered items are not returnable. If these items are found to be damaged or defective, you must notify us within 10 days for replacement. Unfortunately, we can not accept returns older than 30 days.

30-Day Returns:
Except as noted above, products in the original packaging and ready-to-be-sold condition may be returned within 30 days for a full exchange or refund of merchandise price. Unused items not returned in their original condition within the 30 days, if accepted, will be subject up to a 20% handling fee for inspection, repackaging, and restocking. We reserve the right to refuse returns or assess additional fees at our discretion if the merchandise is missing parts or is not in new condition.

Defective Products / Warranty Information:
Most items we sell are covered by manufacturers' warranties. If you experience difficulty with a product, please contact the appropriate manufacturer for assistance and troubleshooting help. A full listing of the manufacturer's websites is available at: Manufacturers' Links, email [email protected], or call 800-435-7180. We will work with you and the manufacturer to resolve any issues.

How to Return an Item:

Request a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) Number by contacting Customer Service: [email protected], 800-435-7180 or 860-701-3400, or Request RMA Here. The returned product must be postmarked within 15 days or the RMA number will expire.
Repack the product in the original packaging and place inside a box suitable for shipping with all the original enclosures, parts, and accessories.
Write the RMA number clearly and conspicuously on the outside of the package.
Return it to us postage pre-paid (we do not accept C.O.D.),with the appropriate insurance. Please note: Shipping costs are non-refundable.
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here is Defender's Return Policy. The way I read it, you should have been able to return the electronics "within 10 days from receipt". Was the issue that you had passed 10 days?
No, I am still within 10 days - its been less than a week.
But I took GPS out of the box, put batteries in it and powered it up. That's it - they don't take items that's been powered up or in any visible way taken out of the box.

They just called me back and said that *as a huge personal exception to the policy just because I am such a good customer* they will let me send it back. However, if the guy that checks it out thinks that it is in *any way* visible that the box was open and device powered up - they will send it back to me, no return - and I am responsible for all the shipping back and forth.

Basically they told me that "they can't sell this item as new" again and so they can't take it back, because the next customer would not want something I opened. May be it's a germ thing, I don't know. Personally I don't care - but also am not sure why potential well-being of next customer is not an issue for all the other electronics retailers, but is a problem for Defender. They must know something everyone else does not.

With all that I am not sure how there could be a reasonable return on anything if I cant even open the box, much less power it up. How the heck would I know if it's any good? (I suppose the defective item replacement would still be fine but simply not liking the item because it is not working the way you expected - that's out).
 

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Well

I will NOT pay full price for and open box and most open returns do have to be sold as refurbished or open boxes

At best you will get hit for 15% at most stores


You sure cant return electric parts on boat motors or cars at ALL unless there defective
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well

I will NOT pay full price for and open box and most open returns do have to be sold as refurbished or open boxes

At best you will get hit for 15% at most stores

You sure cant return electric parts on boat motors or cars at ALL unless there defective
I definitely can return electronics to a number of stores (I won't start naming them - list would be too long :) ). Some take restocking fee, and others don't take any fees and simply accept returns. One of these stores was specifically on my list and had the same item at lower price.

In any case - I don't have a problem with Defender not taking returns, it is their store and their right to do so. I do have a problem with them not being completely honest about that in return policy (though of course now that I had spoken to them, I understand what the "ready to sell" clause means).

Other than a price of an item it is no big deal. (In fact, I am kinda gearing up for buying wireless Tack Tick instruments and until today buying from Defender was pretty much a foregone conclusion, but now I will definitely go somewhere else. Works for me).

I do think that it is worth informing others of the explanation of Defender return policy (in case, like me, they did not realize what it *really* meant) - it may save someone a few $$ down the road. That's all.
 

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i have a kinda dishonest way when i buy something that i am not sure if it is what i need or if i will like it. i open the bottom of the box, that way any makers seal on the top stays undisturbed.
 

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You would be surprised how many people return the big screen TV after the big game, or pots and dishes with food on them after they had the party, even that party dress after wearing it all night. Auto parts store will not take any electric device back. People mess to much stuff up. I dont know how they could stay in business buying back damaged stuff they cant resell.
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
i have a kinda dishonest way when i buy something that i am not sure if it is what i need or if i will like it. i open the bottom of the box, that way any makers seal on the top stays undisturbed.
I don't think this would help in this case. The GPS box had no seals. It is ready to be opened and re-closed, so there isn't really anything that it needs to look like new. It is pretty much the same way it was when I got it.

The point is - if the store does not take returns on certain items, they should make that clear. Then customers would make their own decision - whether to buy there or not. Considering how many stores take returns no questions asked - it's not a big deal for a customer (me) at all. Just be honest with me upfront (instead of having a sneaky return policy that says you can return things, whereas really you can't).
 

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Agree, many good return policies have been changed because of abuse.
Worked with a guy that would buy tools from one place to try them out, then return them and order from an online store because they were cheaper but had a strictor return policy.

Electronic items are very often exchange only when open. If the box is opened, it's yours, any warranty work HAS to go through the manufacturer.
exceptions are hidden damage, or defective parts which most places will replace/repair.


Ken
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Agree, many good return policies have been changed because of abuse.
sure thing, and let them do it. but that means being clear and forthcoming. How hard it is to write on the web site "we have had problems with returns so we don't take returns on electronics"? Just put that in the policy - and everyone is happy. :D
 

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I don't think this would help in this case. The GPS box had no seals. It is ready to be opened and re-closed, so there isn't really anything that it needs to look like new. It is pretty much the same way it was when I got it.

The point is - if the store does not take returns on certain items, they should make that clear. Then customers would make their own decision - whether to buy there or not. Considering how many stores take returns no questions asked - it's not a big deal for a customer (me) at all. Just be honest with me upfront (instead of having a sneaky return policy that says you can return things, whereas really you can't).
If the box has no seals on it and no way of knowing it has been opened or not, then why don't you just return it???? It says right on their website that they take returns on un-opened electronics for up to 10 days. Whats going to let them know it has been opened then if the box is like that? Its one thing if someone buys something, uses it for a week or two and just decides to return it in a crumpled up unsealed box but its another thing if you put your never really been used GPS back in its original packing, close the box and return it.
 

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In regards to above post - Sorry didn't realize in your previous post that when you called they said someone would go over it and try and tell if it had been powered on or else you would have to pay. Still though if it looks brand new and is in the box exactly how you bought it how would they know?
 

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All my stuff has VOID seals on it right down to a 50 dollar Sirius radio or cheep ass Mio GPS

I do agree there policy is misleading BUT the only place around here that would take back open box stuff is Costco
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
All my stuff has VOID seals on it right down to a 50 dollar Sirius radio or cheep ass Mio GPS

I do agree there policy is misleading BUT the only place around here that would take back open box stuff is Costco
Around here from the "brick and mortar" retailers pretty much everyone takes electronics back with few questions (and of course they are opened - who the heck returns things without opening). Best Buy does, and so do all the dept. stores. Online over years I returned things to J&R electronics, B&H, Adorama (I used to do a lot of photography back in the day) and from the more major ones Amazon.com, Newegg and multitude of others. So I am pretty sure that taking returns is, in fact, very common.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
In regards to above post - Sorry didn't realize in your previous post that when you called they said someone would go over it and try and tell if it had been powered on or else you would have to pay. Still though if it looks brand new and is in the box exactly how you bought it how would they know?
I don't know how "they would know". I don't think lying to a merchant is a good policy. I want to be honest with them. Plus - if I never opened a box - why am I returning it? Why would anyone return something he did not open? Unless it is a mistaken purchase - which sounds very unusual.

As a case in point, about 6 months ago I bought an underwater camera and then a flash system for it (from the same place, I also buy my diving gear from them). Camera worked out fine, but flash just wasn't very good. It was not broken - simply didn't work as well as I thought it would and didn't help my underwater photos at all. I called the merchant and told them about it. I was a week past 30 day return period, and to boot I lost a small gasket that came with it. Well, they let me buy a gasket, add it back into the package, put everything back in place (I still had all the papers, packaging and other stuff) and return for a full refund. Needless to say I appreciate this sort of service and I will be back buying more stuff.

Internet stores really almost have to accept returns in my opinion. If they don't - a buyer is forced to go to a "brick and mortar" store to look at items before buying which is not very fair to those stores, methinks. Penny wise and pound foolish never helped anyone.
 

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I just used a 5" random orbit Porter cable sander, and didn't like it. I vacuumed it off threw it back in the box took it back to the Local tool guy's store, and exchanged it for a brand new Makita. No questions, nuthin! He guarantee's every tool he sells for 90 days. love it or he'll take it back. Break it or wear it out, he doesn't care. Beat that home depot.
 

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I just used a 5" random orbit Porter cable sander, and didn't like it. I vacuumed it off threw it back in the box took it back to the Local tool guy's store, and exchanged it for a brand new Makita. No questions, nuthin! He guarantee's every tool he sells for 90 days. love it or he'll take it back. Break it or wear it out, he doesn't care. Beat that home depot.
I know a large, national chain of chandleries with the same policy. I don't mind paying a bit extra when I'm buying local (or, at least, employing locals), and getting guarantee's like this.
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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I certainly sympathize and have had similar problems with electronic return policies but have to say that I have received the best customer service ever from Defender. We recently ordered a new Achilles dinghy from them, amongst a lot of other stuff, and the HP floor had a leak in it. We had at least six calls from Defender apologizing and expediting delivery of a new one even before we shipped the defective one back. Even after we had the new one we had follow up calls to make sure everything was OK. We had done business with them for years, but this was over and above what I would expect. I know you are not slamming them in general, just the return policy on electronics which I was not aware of (thanks for the heads up), but I had to speak up for Defender in general.
 

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I don't know how "they would know". I don't think lying to a merchant is a good policy. I want to be honest with them. Plus - if I never opened a box - why am I returning it? Why would anyone return something he did not open? Unless it is a mistaken purchase - which sounds very unusual.

As a case in point, about 6 months ago I bought an underwater camera and then a flash system for it (from the same place, I also buy my diving gear from them). Camera worked out fine, but flash just wasn't very good. It was not broken - simply didn't work as well as I thought it would and didn't help my underwater photos at all. I called the merchant and told them about it. I was a week past 30 day return period, and to boot I lost a small gasket that came with it. Well, they let me buy a gasket, add it back into the package, put everything back in place (I still had all the papers, packaging and other stuff) and return for a full refund. Needless to say I appreciate this sort of service and I will be back buying more stuff.

Internet stores really almost have to accept returns in my opinion. If they don't - a buyer is forced to go to a "brick and mortar" store to look at items before buying which is not very fair to those stores, methinks. Penny wise and pound foolish never helped anyone.
I am not suggesting "lying to a merchant" but thanks for the accusation. I don't know if you personally used your GPS but for an example if I opened my box at home, turned on the GPS and say realized the unit I bought didn't have certain features I needed or did not like the interface or whatever - and then I placed it back in the box exactly how it was (NOT putting new tape on it or anything like that) and returned it - I do not call that "lying to a merchant." It's not like you bought a CD listened to it for hours, then carefully put it back in, deviously re-sealing the seal and tape. Also the box does not have a seal on it. Thats one thing and I am not suggesting trying to re-sealing anything.

Also people return un-used/un-opened electronics all the time and it is not unusual in anyway shape or form. I guess you never got anything for a gift for a birthday or christmas or boat warming present or a holiday or anniversary or any other of hundreds of reasons why you might return something that is un-opened?
 

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Sea Slacker
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I certainly sympathize and have had similar problems with electronic return policies but have to say that I have received the best customer service ever from Defender. We recently ordered a new Achilles dinghy from them, amongst a lot of other stuff, and the HP floor had a leak in it. We had at least six calls from Defender apologizing and expediting delivery of a new one even before we shipped the defective one back. Even after we had the new one we had follow up calls to make sure everything was OK. We had done business with them for years, but this was over and above what I would expect. I know you are not slamming them in general, just the return policy on electronics which I was not aware of (thanks for the heads up), but I had to speak up for Defender in general.
I would in general agree with you. Until today I had nothing but good things to say about them. They came through every time so far. This is why this situation is ever more surprising. Not only is their policy unclear, but people I've spoken to were not at all forthcoming with any help, and the unsolicited "lawyer" comment was just amazing. Defender would be a last place I expected that from.

Note, that when I called and asked to return a GPS they didn't really ask specifically whether it was used and how much. I was told immediately that they don't take electronics back if they were at all opened or tested. That's not what their policy says.

Anyway, may be electronics is just not their primary business - and it's something to keep in mind. But the sneaky and (in my view) dishonest return policy is not really forgivable.

Like I said - I will give them a ($380 worth of) benefit of the doubt for now, but this in my view is a pretty big black mark on what so far, in my experience was a perfect reputation.

If it were a run of the mill shady internet store - I wouldn't even make a peep, I'd just post the GPS on eBay and sell it to someone who likes it.

May be they changed owners or something? :eek:
 
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