Retail theft makes the honest customer work harder

WalletPop has been reviewing return policies at many of the largest national retail chains this holiday season. We've done updates on what's changed since last year, what's new just for the holidays, and which stores have the best or worst return policies of the season. And given the number of comments after each of these pieces, it's clear that WalletPop readers have a bone, or several bones, to pick with retailers.

To put it in the colloquial, people are pissed off.

You've had returns refused, refunds delayed, reduced or given in-store credit only. A good many of these gripes are legitimate. People are caught in bureaucratic red tape and trying to reason with tired, crabby or inefficient seasonal help. Some folks are upset they can't return everything, at any time, for whatever reason.

Blame it in part on tightened policies due to an increase in retail theft. According to a global study by Checkpoint Systems, approximately $46 billion in merchandise was stolen from U.S. stores this year. It's tempting to blame the recession, and in part we can. But it's not individual consumers shoplifting to clothe their kids, but organized crime rings stealing popular items and selling them online or returning them to stores for cash.