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I’m used to most revisions to retailer return policies being bad news: shorter periods, more exceptions, heftier restocking fees. But has just extended the period during which you can return most of the items you buy to an amazing forty-five days. I hope it sets off a return-policy war among e-retailers. (’s standard period is thirty days, and many merchants stick you with shorter periods and/or a gaggle of gotchas.)

Posted by Harry at 9:06 am

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Orbitz and’s Sales Tactics: Cluttered and Confusing

Orbitz LogoCnet’s Greg Sandoval has a good story on use of “loyalty” programs by Orbitz and are basically attempts to get you to sign up for services that charge you monthly fees as you check out during the buying process. A meaningful number of shoppers apparently sign up for these services by accident, and the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is investigating some of the companies that provide them. Good.

I wrote a few months ago about my own personal gripe with Orbitz, which kept tacking charges onto my ticket for things I hadn’t asked forthat I think should be illegal, period. Of course, both Orbitz and say they provide the “loyalty” services because they think customers want them, and they say very few people complain. But maybe one of the lessons here is that online check-out transactions should be streamlined and distraction-free, period. (’s shopping experience can be cluttered, but once you pay up, it does a good job of making it simple.)

Posted by Harry McCracken at 12:35 pm