Halloween is here! And as a Shopify brand, we’re sure you’ve got some horror stories of your own. 

Whether it’s a customer service issue, a tech support nightmare, or a shipping fail, things don’t always go according to plan. And that’s not only true when it comes to the journey of getting your products to your customers – many brands have seen their share of drama when it comes to dealing with product returns, too. 

Here are a handful of the strangest returns stories we’ve come across, and how brands handled them:

#1: The retrofitter

Steven MacDonald, Managing Director, Scotlight Direct

“A customer purchased a light fitting six years ago from us and then rebought the same fitting last month.”

“The customer requested to return the most recent order, and once we received this, it was clear that they had just swapped over the fittings and replaced the one they had previously purchased.

“They argued that we had sent it to them like this; however, the smell of cigarettes, fingerprints on the metal, and the broken electrical wiring gave it away.” 

“Fortunately, we kept a record of the serial numbers of each light fitting to trace it back, and we could link the orders together and work out what was happening.”

#2: Handle without care

Ian Turner, Director, Care Lamps

“We sell fairly high priced LED light panels.”

“We had one customer file for a return, following our returns form. They stated they had all original packaging and accessories. This particular item is heavy, around 25lbs and around 3 foot tall. We authorized the return.”

It arrived through the mail in a taped up black trash bag with no sort of protection. Needless to say, it arrived bent and broken.”

“We contacted the customer, sending them images and said we would not be issuing a refund and that they had two choices.  Either we send it back to them, or we could repair it for a fee.”

“They chose the repair option. We charged them for this, sent back the item and never heard from them again.”

#3: Getting crafty

Ilia Mundut, Founder, Heftyberry

“Once, a customer ordered 12 wreaths.”

“These ones were shaped like a bird, with feathers, a beak, the eyes, etc. Once the order arrived, the customer emailed us for a return, which we accepted and returned the money (the photos were okay).”

“Once these came back, all 12 of them had the beaks and eyes carefully cut out.”

“Maybe someone just had a DIY project and a shortage of materials.”

#4: A cryptic message

Ilia Mundut, Founder, Heftyberry

“Another time we sold 2 wreaths, received a refund request, and refunded the money.”

“What arrived to us was a big cardboard box with a book in it. The book was The Clockwork Orange.”

The bottom of the box had “MILK” written with a red marker. And an empty Snickers wrapper. Weird.”

#5: A return that packs a punch

Meaghan Thomas, Co-Owner and President, Pinch Spice Market

“We rarely get requests for returns, but we once had a customer say they wanted to return an opened pound of our organic Ceylon cinnamon (aka ‘true cinnamon’) because it was ‘too fresh and too cinnamony.’”

“We know everyone has different palates and we always want to keep customers happy, so we said while we don’t normally offer refunds on opened spices, we’d refund her in this case. We told her there was no need to ship it back to us, and she could keep it or give it to a friend.” 

“A few days later we open a tightly wrapped package and were welcomed by an enormous cinnamon cloud bomb bursting out of the bag in our faces.

“She had shipped it back to us, and had forgotten to seal it. It took days to get the cinnamon smell out of my hair. Now if we process a refund we tell folks, ‘really, please don’t ship it back.’”

#6: The repeat returner

Granger McCollough, CEO & Founder, Elite Patio Direct

“About a year and a half ago, we had one customer who kept ordering the same grill repeatedly and returning it for the same reason. It wouldn’t work.” 

“After their sixth purchase was returned, I decided to preempt their seventh and gave them a call to find out what the problem was. It took about thirty seconds to ascertain what the problem was.” 

They wanted a propane grill, but they kept ordering an electric one, and while I still can’t understand why they thought the same grill might magically run off propane instead of the grid the next time they bought it, I did manage to find, and ship to them, a suitable replacement…“

#7: The one with unrealistic expectations

Alexandra Cotes, Social Media & Marketing Director, FlowerCompany

“As a company operating and providing services online, we have to deal with a few customers not wanting the attained ordered floral products and asking for a refund. And we generally approve of it but once I received a startling return and reimbursement proposal.”

“Six days after delivery, I obtained an email and a phone call demanding a return, and the cause was the flowers are not up to mark. They were not lustrous and gorgeous.”

“I asked for a picture substantiating this and I saw the flowers were withering and it is typical for any blossoms to wilt after weeks.

“I tried to talk sense into her, but she wasn’t listening and threatening to make a ruckus out of it. I sternly told her to halt her ludicrous demands otherwise, action would be taken against her. Afterwards, she stopped making erratic calls.”

In closing

The best thing about a weird customer story is the chance to laugh about it later.

We hope these scary returns stories brought some smiles to your day – have a Happy Halloween!

Want to make sure your returns are all treats and no tricks? Find out how Loop can help you build a streamlined returns process that retains more revenue.