Bob buys some things from a shop that allows purchases from it to be returned within 30 days with the receipt without any reason. Bob buys them with a ready formed intention to return them a few days later, for example for purposes of credit card churning benefits, once he has received and spent them.

Or to benefit from a multi-buy percentage discount which kicks in only when a purchase’s complete total exceeds a certain amount, but a staff in the shop confirms to him that returning some of the items bought doesn’t then negate the discount that was activated by buying multiple items to satisfy the required total under the promotion.

could buying items with the preformed intention to exercise one’s contractual rights to return them attract any legal stigma or prejudice?

  • 1
    From a ship? Is Bob on a cruise?
    – Dale M
    Commented Dec 17, 2023 at 23:56
  • 3
    I tired to google it, but without success. What is "legal stigma"? I also googled "legal prejudice" but that terms explanation made no sense to me in this context.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 8:18
  • Legal stigma appears to be social stigma derived from the application of a judicial process (eg former prisoners being unable to secure employment; people accused and acquitted of sexual offences being treated as "no smoke without fire"; and the like. I'm not sure that it's the correct term here unless it has an altogether different meaning as well. Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 10:50
  • On a cruise ship, you might actually be bound to the law of Crete or such by whee the ship is registered.
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 11:17
  • To me the natural meaning is some disadvantage that can be faced in a legal context or in the eyes of the law as a product of some behaviour. Ie if an act is viewed unfavourably by the law and can thus result in any range of later legal disadvantages where the law will give this individual some form of opprobrium or dirty looks as a result of their perpetration of this act. That doesn’t necessarily mean criminal conviction sanction though it certainly encompasses it. Or even a civil judgment against one for committing a definite civil wrong against another party. But it could fall short of 1/ Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 14:45

2 Answers 2


People can contract on whatever terms they can agree on

(Subject to legal restrictions which are not relevant here)

If a store offers terms that allow the unconditional return of goods for some specified time (or even for an unlimited time), then that's what it means. A right that can expressly be exercised solely at one party's discretion is not subject to good faith or reasonableness tests - it's a discretionary right. Arguably, even a bad-faith actor (which, as described, Bob isn't because his intentions cause no additional harm to the store than the contract allows) could exercise the right.

Stores that offer this kind of "peace of mind" returns policy do it as a marketing proposition - what they lose from people like Bob is more than offset by the extra sales the policy gets them.


First off, no store in their right mind has an "unconditional" returns policy.

There are always conditions, they are just so common sense that we skip them in normal talks. So for example you can unwrap a TV, plug it in, be dissatisfied with the way the on screen menu works and return it. That will be accepted as normal. You cannot take a pair of boots for a hike and give them back muddy and scratched and expect to get your money back.

There are no legal repercussions to enter into a contract and fulfil it one way or the other. If returning an item in the condition agreed upon is one option and you take it, that is fine. There is no "moral clause" in the contract to stop doing it on purpose.

However, merchants don't have to trade with you. Once a contract is entered they must follow through, but if they don't like what you do, you have no legal right to another contract in the future.

As a real world example, fashion retailers have very high quotas of returns, just because fashion is so horrible unpredictable. If you have ever ordered three exact same jeans on Amazon and they differed 5 cm in length because the brand has multiple factories and some were manufactured in Bangladesh and some in Egypt (I guess one of those countries hasn't invented the measuring stick yet?) you know what I am talking about. It is perfectly normal to order 3 items (the size you think you need, one smaller one larger) and send two back. Retailers still make money on that. Not the best customer, but still one worth keeping. But all of them keep track and all of them will rather lose a customer, than keep one that is costing them money by returning too much. Or damaged goods. Or goods where you can clearly see they were used for more than just seeing if it fits.

The contract you have formed is valid and you can excercise any option therein, but they will not offer you new contracts with those conditions, if they think you showed bad faith which made them no money on their last contracts.

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