13-Mar-2019 • Personal Finance

Digital technologies like online shopping have made our lives easier, but that convenience can come at a cost if you’re not careful, according to a new ME study.

ME surveyed 1,000 Australian adults and found that the majority of Aussies aren’t always returning their unwanted online purchases, with 70% admitting to have not returned an online purchase that wasn’t quite right (wrong size, fit, quality etc.).

“It’s important to consider the online shopping experience as a whole, with returns making up a significant part of the process. It’s not over when you get your item; what you choose to do with the item at that point is a deciding factor between a healthy or hurt hip pocket,” said ME Money Expert Matthew Read.

The research was commissioned to explore the potential cost of online returns behaviour, and found that Aussies typically want to return an average of 4 online purchases each year.

With $96 reported as the average spend per online purchase; the potential annual loss of not returning items which you never intend to use is $384 a year - that’s flights for a holiday, a new vacuum cleaner or your morning coffee costs covered for almost 4 months.

“As with all expenses, it’s important to keep track of what you spend because little things can add up to a large amount that may be best spent, or saved elsewhere,” said Read.

“The ease and convenience of ordering items online doesn’t always match the time and effort involved in returning items, so be prepared for that, unless you’re willing to absorb the loss.

“It can be tempting to let it slide ‘this time’ and choose not to return a low cost online purchase, but if you’re like most online shoppers, chances are it’s not a once-off occurrence and the costs add up, fast,” said Read.


Editor notes: ME’s survey was completed by a nationally representative sample of 1,000 of Australians in February 2019.