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Do You Or Don't You

Do You Let Customers Return Pet Toys?

We asked the PETS+ Brain Squad to share their return policies for toys. For many store owners, it depends on the circumstances.

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In the February Brain Squad survey, we asked, “Do you let customers return pet toys?” The majority of readers, 57 percent, said yes, and 35 percent said no. Let’s start with the reasons why not.

No: 35%

  • No toy is indestructible. We will work with each customer to help find a toy that matches their dog’s play style the best. We do make an occasional exception, but it’s rare. We test all of our toys on a variety of dogs before bringing anything in, so firsthand experience really helps. — Annabell Bivens, The Dog Store, Alexandria, VA
  • There’s a chance of cross contamination of disease with birds. At the moment we are not allowing any returns due to COVID. — Paul Lewis, Birds Unlimited, Webster, NY
  • We work very hard to make sure that our customers get the appropriate toy for their dog and play style. And we tell every customer that no toy is indestructible several times within a transaction. Every once in a blue moon, we have a customer who swears their dog isn’t an aggressive player and buys the toy that we didn’t recommend — and then they come back and complain. In that instance, I look at the customer shopping record, and if they are a regular customer who spends good money, I will not accept a return, per se, but I will provide them with a deep discount on the toy we recommended the first time. I’ve never had a customer not accept the discounted recommendation, and they always appreciate the extra lengths we went to accommodate them. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond RI
  • We explain that toys are surrogate creatures made to be killed by their babies. So it is just natural that they destroy them. We are careful not to sell any toys under the claim that they will last. — Jarbas Codoy, The Dog From Ipanema, Miami, FL
  • Simple answer: germs. We don’t allow the resale of anything that ever left the store. It’s our way to guarantee that our clients always have safe products they are buying from here. We make it clear up front to all customers that this is the policy and we never have any issues. — Sal Salafia, Exotic Pet Birds Inc, Webster, NY
  • Toys are meant to be destroyed. They are designed with noise, texture and stuffing or not. A dog’s and cat’s mouth are equipped with meat-tearing teeth. They also do not have hands, so they eventually find a texture that they prefer as their “Wubbie” and won’t destroy it. We thoroughly explain to people that toy stimulation is by far the most enriching way to keep your pet happy, healthy and learning. I never understand the term “indestructible” because it doesn’t and should never exist. Shredding and tearing is natural, not for humans but for pets. — Jennifer Flanagan, Nature’s Pet Market Sherwood, Sherwood, OR
  • On the rare occasion someone brings one back, we give a store credit only and advise them of the policy. We are hands-on with clients and their purchases, so we make sure they know that every toy we stock has a mention of whether it’s a “chew” or a “toy,” and that if they are in doubt as to whether their dog will destroy a toy, we direct them to something else. Anything that is faulty/defective, we absolutely will take back. — Karen Conell, The Bark Market LLC, Delavan, WI
  • Unless the manufacturer warranty covers the toy, I can’t take it back. — Gina Swansburg, Gone to the Dogs, Wakefield, MA
  • First, we accept no returns, except on food within a specific time frame, but even then it’s exchange or store credit only. Other eligible items can be exchanged only provided all tags are on and it’s within 14 days of purchase and with the receipt. But I think you mean with regard to used toys. Specific to that, it says *NO toys are warrantied to be chew-proof or “indestructible” and as such are FINAL SALE. — Lorin Grow, Furry Face, Inc, Redlands, CA
  • We used to, but now with COVID it doesn’t make sense as we don’t know if humans have gotten germs on them. — April Meier, Pawsitively Scrumptious, Crestview, FL
  • Normally no, especially not if they want to return it because their dog destroyed it. We have lots of signage regarding our toy return policy, and most people are fine with it. We also do our best to advise customers looking for something to keep their dog “busy” to get some kind of chew or a kong, etc., and encourage interactive use of toys vs. unsupervised destruction. — Jennifer Guevin, Holistic for Pets, Sarasota and Bradenton, FL

Yes: 57%

  • Within 30 days – no questions asked. —   Audree Berg, Auggie’s Doggies Pet Supplies, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • It depends on the toy and the situation. If’s clearly a defect on a plush toy, then yes, but we also have several other toys that we sell that are guaranteed by the manufacturer, like Barrett ball and ruff dog. — Richie Powell, All American Pet Supplies & Grooming, Springfield, OR
  • We don’t really have a policy set for toy returns. Luckily, it’s not something we deal with too much, and it’s worth the cost of the toy to keep a customer happy. We usually just try to do an exchange for something else, so that way we don’t really take a loss, but at least break even. I’m not saying we take back every attempted toy return, but try to gauge the situation and use our best judgement on what will make the customer happy. — Jen Silverberg, Fetch Pet Supplies & Gifts, Springfield, MO
  • Only because I don’t want a bad review. I try to discourage the purchase if I don’t think it’s going to be a good fit. — Stephanie Rossino, GiggyBites Bakery for Dogs, Chadds Ford, PA
  • If the toy is new, with tags and in resalable condition, we refund their money within 30 days of purchase. Anything and everything outside of that, is store credit. — Sheila Spitza, Wet Nose, Geneva, IL
  • Based on manufacturer’s policy, so I try to buy products that companies stand behind. But I also base it on a case-by-case basis… sometimes I have to decide if it’s worth pissing off a customer and losing them (plus, potentially their circle of influence if they go bad-mouthing us), so I have taken a couple of toys back and written them off. Lose the battle to win the war sometimes. — Janet Cesarini, Pupology, Georgetown, TX
  • We’ll take a toy back only if the manufacturer’s tag is still on it and it’s in just-purchased condition so we can return it to inventory. We tell our customers that no toy is indestructible and help them find toys appropriate to their dogs’ chew habits. We also remind dog parents that it’s instinctive for dogs to tear apart toys — it makes them happy! — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • We take anything back. Most of our vendors are really good about giving us credit back. We want the customer to be happy with what they buy! — Jess Calton, Chow Hound Pet Supplies, Walker, MI
  • They can return guaranteed toys no problem, but we generally tell them that we will take care of the first return, but no toy is indestructible and we won’t be able to do them unless they are guaranteed. We use this as a discussion/walkthrough to which toys are best suited for tough chewers and which are best left to the softer chewers. Most customers appreciate the fact we took care of them outside of our return policy (if not backed by a guarantee or defective, we return unused items in resalable condition) and it’s clear we won’t be able to in the future so they are a bit more cautious on their purchases. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA
  • There have seven days to return as new, unused. Tammi Bui, Wishbone Pet Care, Missouri City, TX
  • We aim to just make people happy. If they return a toy because their dog destroyed it in 2.0 seconds, we do a little education on picking an appropriate toy for their dog and the fact toys are meant to be played with as interaction with the dogs’ owner, not to be left to destroy. — Nicole Olesen, Woofs & Waves, Sioux Falls, SD
  • 30-day return policy for a refund on unused toys. If a toy has not held up to wear and tear that a particular brand espouses (for example, West Paw), we will exchange the toy for another toy. — Amy Schiek, Lucky Dogs, Skaneateles, NY
  • We do, but our goal is to really work with the customer when they’re first buying the toy to make sure it’s right for them. Selling them the right toy first really reduces the returns. We do allow them to purchase another toy at 50 percent off as an accommodation, but we don’t advertise this and honestly, our toy returns are really low. — Jeff Jensen, Four Muddy Paws, St Louis, MO
  • We can always take back “unused” toys, or toys with a manufacturer guarantee like West Paw. We also will do a “onetime” return for a non-guaranteed toy if the customer is unhappy with how long the toy lasted, but it’s done as an exchange only and requires proof of purchase and for the customer to have a loyalty account. We note the date of the exception on their account to ensure they don’t abuse the policy. Thankfully, no one has! — Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • Customers are allowed to return toys. We make sure to stress that no toy is indestructible, as well as the importance of actually interacting with your pet and the toy, rather than just giving it to them and walking away. Because of our shared knowledge regarding toy interaction with pets, we don’t have many toys returned. — Toni Shelaske, Healthy Pet Products, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 30day return, no reason needed. We do it to keep them happy, so far no one has abused the policy. We give an honest assessment of toy toughness, based on our own dogs and reports from other customers. — Jennifer Moore Baker, Grateful Dog Bakery, North Ridgeville, OH
  • Only if the toy has a guarantee from the manufacturer. Can’t remember the last time someone tried to return a toy, because we’re very clear that there is no indestructible toy. — Diana Farrar, Fifi & Fidos Pet Boutique, San Antonio, TX
  • Only if they still have tags on it! — Penny Murano, Unleashed, New London, NH
  • Store credit only must be in resalable condition. — Stephanie Steelman, Wings Wags and Whiskers, Amarillo, TX
  • We use our discretion. Our policy is to take them back, but if the customer is abusing the policy we stop. — Kim Loper, Harbor Pet, Greenport, NY
  • If in perfect condition. — Comora Tolliver, Barkers Anonymous, Hendersonville, NC
  • We take everything back. Return of toys is rare. If someone kept returning chewed toys, we would not take them anymore, but it hasn’t been a problem for over 20 years. — Laurie Wilson, Teca Tu-A Pawsworthy Pet Emporium, Santa Fe, NM
  • Only if it is either unused or defective. — Shelly Nicastro, Essex Bird & Pet Supply, Essex, MA
  • It’s tricky. Kind of depends on the circumstance. If defective, no question it gets returned. If not used and in its packaging, another yes. — Alexis Butler, The Dog’s Meow, Salt Lake City, UT
  • We take pretty much everything back. We look at it as a marketing expense. That $12 toy is a small price to keep a customer happy! They can tell a lot of people what a great experience it was. So in the long run it makes sense. — Anna Woodcock, Brown Dog Bakery, Ankeny, IA
  • Yes AND No. That’s a hard one to be definitive about. If the toy is clearly defective in some way, yes, of course I’ll let a customer return it. But, if the toy has been chewed and just didn’t “last long enough,” no return because that’s what toys are for! Chew, rip, shred, bury — you name it! — Lisa Boegl, Eldorado Country Pet, Santa Fe, NM
  • In unused condition with tags attached. — Becci Johnson Scott, Fetching Dog, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Our return policy is that we match the manufacturer’s. If they have a satisfaction-guaranteed policy, we match it. We will take new, unused toys with tags on as a return item. — Katherine Ostiguy, Crossbones, Providence, RI
  • We take back everything for any reason. — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • If the manufacturer guarantees the product. We tell people when they purchase that no toy is indestructible and we do not guarantee against chewing. — Michelle McConnell, A Natural Pet Pantry, Osprey, FL
  • Only if they are unused or factory damaged. — Rhonda Olson, Rhonda’s Aviary, Milton, FL
  • Depends on the situation, but we try to be flexible and inform our customers before purchasing that there’s not a single indestructible toy out there, so any toy we will give the caveat that their dog might be able to get it apart in seconds, even if most dogs haven’t yet. We are very fortunate in not getting a lot of returns. — Matthew O’Leary, Felix & Oscar, Springfield, VA
  • We have a written policy for 14 days, as most distributors and manufacturers will allow returns if you are nice to them. That said, we also will take back toys outside of our 14 day window in order to keep the customers happy. Chewy does, so the expectation is that we would do the same. — Nicole Cammack, NorthPoint Pets, Cheshire, CT
  • Depends on the situation. If the toy is destroyed in less than a minute, well, sometimes it’s better to lose the cost of that sale vs. losing a customer forever. Our return policy says no unless it is in resalable condition, but I have found out the hard way that if your return policy is not written on the receipt and the customer disputes the charge, they automatically win, even if they are wrong. You’re screwed by the credit card companies anyway. Our regular customers are cool with their dog doing what dogs do. It’s the seasonal customers that are, at times, unrealistic. — Sue Hepner, Cool Dog Gear, Warrington, PA
  • Unused toys are returnable. — Ron Keller, Captivating Canines, Westerville, OH
  • If the toy has a particular warranty, we’ve got you for sure. If not, let’s talk about it. Sometimes it’s fun to be the good guy. We also try to be ridiculously informative and honest from the get-go. — Jack Carey, Food for Pets, Manchester, NH
  • If it’s unopened/tags attached, full refund. If it’s a destroyed toy/dissatisfied customer, we usually still refund since we can go back to most of our vendors for a refund. It’s not a super common occurrence, and it’s easier to keep the customers happy. We’ll usually try to refund as store credit and get something else in their hands if we can in this instance. — Paige Elder, Buzz n’ B’s Aquarium & Pet Shop, Erie, PA
  • I’ve never had an owner ask to return a toy, but if they were unhappy with their purchase I would absolutely give them a full refund or at the very least allow them to pick out a new toy. I would also look into reaching out to the toy company to discuss the client’s feedback. — Natalie Bosch, Albany Pet Hotel, Albany, OR
  • Only if manufacturer guaranteed (West Paw) or if defective. If their dog destroys it, we don’t return it. —   Jodi Etienne, Razzle Dazzle Doggie Bow-tique, Bradley, IL
  • We have a 100 percent happiness guarantee. Beth Staley, Happy Dog Barkery, Downers Grove, IL
  • We take just about everything back. Small store in a small area. We can’t afford to lose a customer over a toy. — Brett Foreman, euPAWria Holistic Pet Center, Owego, NY
  • If the toy has a guarantee, then the customer has to follow the manufacturer’s guide on how to get a new toy or their money back. I return most toys. It really depends on the situation. If it’s a customer that has had it for months and months and the dog ripped it up, then usually not (unless it’s under $20, no need to lose a customer for $20). That is my thinking on this, especially if it’s a really good customer, don’t want to lose them for something that might have cost me $10. — Paula Gorman, Pet Supplies ‘N’ More, Muskego, WI
  • Yes, but we only allow store credit. We will not give money back. — Nikki Fredericksen, Fetching Frieda’s Dog & Cat Emporium, LaSalle, IL
  • We are a concierge business, and it’s not often that people have issues with things we sell. Thanks to the PETS+ community, I can honestly say the items I sell are for the most part complaint proof. — Angela Pantalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT
  • This is a tricky one. Each return is a case by case. We don’t take them back if a dog just destroyed it. There is no such thing as an indestructible dog toy! Considering putting this phrase on our team T-shirts. — Caroline Gunther, Wag! A Unique Pet Boutique, Hendersonville, NC
  • Have to be in original condition with tags attached. — Leslie Stewart, Southern Barker, Lexington, KY
  • We have a nohassle return policy. Why stress over a few dollars. It’s easier to take the item back and make the customer happy. Very few abuse it. — Nancy Guinn, Dog Krazy, Fredericksburg, VA
  • Unconditional return guarantee. Rachael Creech, Adventure Pets, Covington and Mandeville, LA
  • We let anything get returned, but have very few returns if any. Sometimes none in a whole quarter. — Trace Menchaca, Modern Pet Foods, Houston, TX
  • Toys can be returned in new condition, but we do not take back chewed toys, generally. There is a two-week return/exchange policy, which is only there as a formality really. We try to be as flexible as we can with our clients. — Jennifer Thomas, Lucky Dog Pet Grocery & Bakery, Lawrence, KS
  • We have a 100 percent return policy on all our store’s retail items. Unless we find a customer is abusing the policy to get free merchandise on a regular basis. — Pattie Zeller Animal Connection, Charlottesville VA
  • If they come with money-back guarantee, bought wrong size, complete with packaging. — Sarah Atkinson, Bunny’s Moggy’s Doggy’s Pet Supplies, Chorley, Lancashire, United Kingdom
  • The policy is case by case. Rather than a return we try to offer 20-30 percent off a better choice. — Connie Roller, The Feed Bag Pet Supply, Mequon, WI
  • We take returns on a case-by-case purpose. We do have a large elderly clientele that gets confused about appropriate toy play. — Keith Henline, Asheville Pet Supply, Asheville MC

N/A: 8%

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If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 16 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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