Stores see steady stream, not mad rush, of customers in return lines

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Despite tougher return policies at many local stores, few people had problems returning or exchanging anything too small, too big or unwanted, area stores said Monday.

Starting at 6 a.m. Monday, most area stores opened their doors expecting a rush of people returning and exchanging their holiday gifts. Instead they encountered a steady stream of people all day.

Buchheit of Jackson department manager said fewer people came in for returns than the store had expected, and most of the customers' returns were just size exchanges.

Kohl's customer Juanita Welker waited until the afternoon to drive to Kohl's in Cape Girardeau from her home in Marble Hill, Mo., thinking she would miss out on the early morning rush.

Welker didn't wait more than two minutes before she was at the return register.

Donna Seabaugh, also of Marble Hill, had a similar experience.

She walked into the Kohl's and walked right over to the return line where she was immediately assisted, without any wait. She said she didn't have any problems at any of the stores where she had items to return.

Karen Backfisch, assistant store manager at Kohl's, said it was not as hectic this year as it has been in the past.

"People have been so patient. They have had everything ready, they are prepared this year to do the refunds," Backfisch said.

Kohl's has expedited the refund process this year, she said. The store had five registers devoted only to returns instead of the two they had last year.

"We take everybody's comments and just make it better and better every year," she said.

Kohl's had about 10 extra people working Monday.

This year Kohl's moved the return lines away from customer service to allow customers better access to the rest rooms and give people more space.

"We think that works because you have more elbow room," Backfisch said.

Everything from returns to exchanges is done at the register so the customers can get everything done in one place.

Store Manager David Bova said Kohl's will continue to have return lines open through the first of January.

Because many of the people returning gifts brought them in plastic bags, Kohl's is recycling those bags. In less than 10 hours, more than eight giant trash bags fill of plastic bags were sent into the back to be compacted and recycled.

Sharon Ebersohl, store manager at Famous Barr said that store didn't have any problems and didn't doing anything different this year, but referred questions to the corporate office in St. Louis for more information. Phone calls to the corporate office were not returned. Many local store managers declined to answer questions, referring to corporate offices.

ameyer@semissourian.com 335-6611 extension 127

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