Returning stuff you owe money on (Oprah's Debt Diet question)

Not for CS because it’s a factual question rather than a comment on the show.

Oprah and a couple of financial experts are working with some debt-ridden families. They’re setting budgets, tracking spending, etc.

On today’s show, one of the families saved money by returning an expensive piano for a cheaper one, and by returning a big TV set. I think they even returned a car or two.

How would that work? Would a store even be willing to accept return of a used item? (It’s hard enough to return things that don’t work.)

I’m assuming these items weren’t being rented but were purchases charged to a credit card.

Have you ever said to Sears, “Come and get this snow blower – I can’t pay for it”?

Biggest question: After watching Oprah, are thousands of financially troubled people going to try to return stuff they can’t afford?

Won’t someone think of the economy? :slight_smile:

I signed up for a cell phone plan and then switched to a different (less expensive) plan because my initial one had too many minutes.

I imagine the piano (for instance) would be a trade in for a less expensive model. The store is still getting the more expensive piano to resell for a slightly reduced rate.

The piano trade-in makes sense. Most places that sell pianos probably sell new and used, and they could still make a profit.

I’ve never read the fine print in a sales contract, but I thought that if something was repossessed (which this sorta is) the store could recoup the difference between what you owed and what they were able to get for the item.

So if you return a TV (or a car) on which you owed $2,000, and it’s resold for $1,000, you still owe $1,000.

I’m also wondering if there was some dramatic license, that the items didn’t go back to a store at all, they’re in Oprah’s Warehouse and she paid the balance on them. :slight_smile: Or the store made special arrangements for the sake of the TV show.

“Returning” a car is usually impossible unlless there is some pre-agreed ability to do so, or there is some other upside for the dealer.

Some states may have “buyers remorse” time allowances that allow cars to be returned, but I’m not familar with any that do.

The families in the Debt Diet show

Astro, thanks. I sent an e-mail to the show asking about the returns. It looks like the piano was leased. Maybe the TV was too, and the cars, but it doesn’t say on the site.

Returning a car is really a different animal than most other durable products. A car’s value depreciates significantly within the first year it is owned. By contrast, a piano ages much better and lasts much, much longer if taken care of, even if used regularly (in fact playing them regularly is an important part of maintaining them). Naturally if you returned a piano you wouldn’t recoup the sales price, but you’d take much less of a loss percentagewise than returning a car.