By Kurtis Ming

Before you bring back those gifts you don’t like, realize more stores are now tracking your returns.

And as a Sacramento viewer found out, you could end up banned from bringing things back!

He had a receipt and realized he didn’t need what he bought.

So he brought it back within the return period.

So why did Home Depot tell him sorry, we won’t take it back?

“I came to them with my original receipt and they denied the return,” said Calvin Wong, Sacramento resident.

When Calvin tried to return a lock set to Home Depot, he learned they banned him from making certain returns at any of their stores for 90 days.

“I thought it was kind of ridiculous,” said Calvin.

We’ve learned more stores are tracking your returns. Some are blacklisting habitual returners.

Southern California based The Retail Equation collects information for 20,000 companies, including Home Depot, helping them identify returnaholics.

“I think it’s rude, I think it’s anti-consumer,” said Chris Morran, Deputy Editor, The Consumerist.

Morran says if you have a receipt, he doesn’t think your returns should be tracked and they shouldn’t even ask for your ID.

“You’re effectively guilty until you scan your ID and show that you’re not a problem returner,” said Morran.

The Retail Equation tells us 1% of consumers are denied returns for behaviors they claim mimic fraud or abuse.

But we’ve learned those denied can access their reports.

We obtained Calvin’s, which shows he made six returns to Home Depot since the Spring for more than 20 items but he has an explanation for that.

“Maybe you want to buy different sizes of things… use the right one and return the rest,” said Calvin.

But Home Depot tells us it’s not the number of returns that got Calvin flagged. It’s the fact he tried to return something he bought with a store credit listed in someone else’s name, which he openly admits.

Calvin thinks the whole practice is unfair.

“If it’s not illegal, it very ought to be,” said Calvin.

We checked the Home Depot return policy in this particular store.

It boasts “no hassle returns, every time” and said nothing about restricting returns.

Turns out, Home Depot has updated its policy to a new one it plans to post in all stores, which talks about its right to restrict returns.

Home Depot says it’ll send Calvin a $40 gift card for his trouble but they will not lift that 90-day restriction keeping him from making certain returns.

The industry calls fraud a big problem, costing companies almost $9 billion this year and almost $3 billion during this holiday season alone.

How Can Consumers Find Out if the Verify Return Authorization System has Information on Them?

Consumers can contact TRE by sending an e-mail to or a letter to The Retail Equation, P.O. Box 51373, Irvine, CA 92619-1373.

Requests should include the consumer’s name and a phone number where he/she can be contacted. When TRE calls, the company will ask for the consumer’s driver’s license number and state, to enable a database search. TRE representatives prefer to call consumers to avoid sending personal information via e-mail or mail.


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