Many Happy Returns

By Lisa Scottoline

photo of dogs on furniture

Here’s a question for you:

How old were you when you realized you could return something to a store?

Me, I’m thinking high school.

I say this because I can’t remember returning a single present when I was little.

Certainly we didn’t return Christmas presents.

I mean, to the North Pole?

Otherwise we got birthday presents, and I don’t think Mother Mary would have loved me telling her I wanted to return something she gave me.

I mean, it just wasn’t possible.

We got a present, and we liked it.

We were grateful, truly.

I don’t even remember not liking something my parents gave me.

Either we liked everything, or we didn’t get much.

Maybe both were true.

If something was the wrong size, we’d put it on anyway.

We’d grow into it.

Unfortunately, that’s still true.

But the growing is sideways.

I’m thinking of this now because all I do is return things.

This is part-and-parcel of online shopping.

Mainly, parcel.

And I don’t return stuff just because I’m picky, though I am.

But everything looks good online, but when you get it, the color is wrong, or the fabric is cheesy, or a medium isn’t really a medium, and we used to call this false advertising, but now we call it online shopping.

I saw an article that said returns to online businesses cost retailers $700 billion, but what choice do you have if something isn’t what they said it was?

If you can get a divorce, you should be able to return a sweater.

It’s basically the same thing.

Divorce is just another form of buyer’s remorse.

And believe me, I got receipts.

My latest return drama is a cashmere blanket.

Look, I know this is a champagne problem.

But sue me, I like cashmere.

And I love blankets, especially in winter.

I buy a lot of blankets and I put them on the couches, so I can stay toasty and warm.

Also it would look classy when people come over.

Of course people never come over.

So you see this is fantasy on top of fantasy.

Reality is that I put the blanket on the couch, then the dogs find it, scratch it into a nest, and tear out the threads with their nails.

But still.

So I bought the blanket, and it arrives, and I take it out of the box, but the yarn has a pull in the center.

It’s a tiny pull, but I saw it right away.

I tried to poke the yarn back in, but then it was a pucker.

You could barely see it, but I knew it was there.

Instantly, a question.

Do I return it?

It’s a hassle that comes down to time and money, because I’d have to put it in a box and drive it to the post office when I’m supposed to be getting to work.

So I’m doing the errand I thought I was avoiding in the first place.

Plus my time costs more than the blanket.

Not much, but still.

And honestly, it was the kind of pull my dogs would have laughed at.

The kind of pull they make when they’re just getting started.

It was a rookie pull.

On the other hand, I knew I’d be pissed every time I saw the blanket.

And it wouldn’t look good on the couch at my next cocktail party.

Also I forgot to mention I don’t have cocktail parties.

So we’re well into Fantasy Island.

Anyway, I decided to return the blanket, but I grumbled all the way, so I don’t want to hear retailers whine about what returns cost them.

Because the blanket cost me what I spent, my time and gas, plus the fact that my dogs had to find something else to destroy in the meantime.

And Mother Mary was right, again.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2023