January 16th, 2021

COVID creates potential problem for consumers

By Letter to the Editor on May 29, 2020.

Everyone from Mayor Spearman to the Chamber of Commerce has requested consumers “buy locally,” something I have taken to heart. We all need to support local merchants, doing everything we can to aid recover from the devastation of COVID-19.

However, I recently found, quite by chance, a fly in the retail ointment that could be costly. Needing to replace a piece of equipment in my shop, I searched the internet and found what I needed at a local lumber/hardware store. That’s shopping locally, especially when they offer 10 per cent off the lowest price one can find the identical article for within the trading area. I got a deal and bought.

Arriving home and setting it up, I found the blade that came with it was not suitable for my purposes, so I returned to the store, bought the blade I needed, plus an accessory for another piece of equipment. That accessory item didn’t fit, so next time I was in the area I returned to exchange it for the correct one.

“Can no do,” says the lady at customer service. “Sorry, during the pandemic we cannot accept returns of any kind.” So I said, “So what if the expensive piece of equipment I just bought with a year’s warranty fails, or in fact hadn’t worked right out of the box,” etc., etc. “I apologize for any inconvenience but the company is not accepting returns for any reason during the pandemic.”

Predictably no signs announced this. So, Mr. and Mrs. Consumer, as much as you might wish to patronize your local merchant (or any merchant anywhere), be aware that pretty well everything (clothing, tools – anything) you purchase during this “crisis,” you own it – there’s no going back.

Based on my experience, I’m assuming a “warranty” is worthless, too, since you can’t return anything “for any reason.” Whether or not this applies across the retail board is uncertain. Caveat emptor has never been more applicable than right now when no one can tell for certain when (or if) COVID-19 will end.

Alvin W. Shier


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Citi Zen

Does this suggest that that item was untouched by human hands before it reached the consumer, and therefore Covid free?Sounds like perhaps these businesses will no longer need employees to man the customer service booths. More layoffs coming…..


What I fund out, when I went to exchange a TV remote control that failed for one that works was. I had done this in the past 30 years with no problem. Exchange broken for working, no problem, thank you very much. This time, “you can keep the control, we cannot take it back, and that will be $14.95. No you don’t have to pay for it now (I offered cash) . We will put it on your account for the automatic payment.


better than buy locally, buy necessity while avoiding buying wants and impulse items.