The excitement of buying, the relief of returning, and all other packages in between
MI k’amcha Yisrael: The kiosk industry is booming.
In Brooklyn, the joke always went, if you noticed a vacant property, you could safely assume that the space would soon be occupied by either a bank or an eatery.
These days, with the awareness of technology’s spiritual dangers growing at an equal pace to items in your AliExpress cart, Internet kiosks are a close third. You never need to walk more than five minutes to visit a kiosk and obtain filtered Internet access.
What actually goes on behind those cute partitioned desks?
A little working, a little corresponding, and a very lot of shopping.
Walk into a kiosk any time of day or night and you’ll find hands sticking out of cubicles, rocking strollers, sticking bags of Flutes into protesting little hands, doing anything to keep those babies quiet while their mothers browse Zara’s AW arrivals.
Often, there’ll be a folding chair squeezed into the cubicle, for a sister or friend or daughter, and the two visitors will bend close to the computer screen and try to figure out the nature of a fabric, if it looks like good quality, and, “Do you think it runs small? Look how short it is on the model, should we size up?”
You know what they’ll end up doing, because you do the same: order both sizes, and return one. Or both.
Because as much fun as it is to shop for cute little denim dresses from H&M for our girls and omigosh, goooorgeous Shabbos sweaters for our boys, they look like they’re from a local store!, it’s even more fun to return them.
At this point, there are probably more UPS, FedEx, and USPS trucks on the Brooklyn roads than there are school buses. The drivers deliver, they pick up, they pretend to be annoyed when you chase them in the street and beg them to take your package or you’ll miss the return window, but they’ll end up saying, “All right, leave it here,” because they know us, they like us, we keep them in business.
As a certified returns and exchanges specialist, you’ve mastered the art of taping up boxes really well, and you’ve even finally discovered that Amazon shipping bags come with a built-in peel-off adhesive to save you on tape (or maybe because their robots are grossed out from the thought of how that tape was likely ripped off the roll). If you’re a seasoned shopper returner, you’ve surely learned the many tricks of the trade, and if you aren’t, study this list before you embark on your career:
- Build a special Returns closet right next to your coat closet. A big one. No, an even bigger one. What are you going to fill it up with? Ask your local UPS driver.
- Keep a steady supply of packing tape.
- Keep a steady supply of boxes. And shipping bags. But really, in dire situations, even grocery bags will do. Especially when the UPS truck stopped at a red light at your corner and you’re going to miss him if you don’t run outside now.
- Shop ahead of time, when you can snag great deals on previous seasons’ items while they’re still returnable. (Also, if ordering from AliExpress, to simply guarantee that your purchases will arrive before the next season is over.)
- Do not shop ahead of time. You’ll end up with a return closet full of unusable items that have missed the return window.
- Never order anything from AliExpress thinking that if your purchase doesn’t work out, you’ll return it. Those days are long over, my dear.
- If you ordered something from AliExpress that is an astonishing success, send me the link.
Admittedly, it’s a full-time job, and not necessarily a well-paying one, unless you have selective vision and only see the (sizeable, true) credits on your credit card statements. It’s satisfying work — nothing beats the thrill of finding a package at your door or the relief of seeing that same package make it safely back onto the truck. You’ll get the hang of it eventually. Most websites’ return policies are straightforward — although you will need to make another quick stop at the kiosk to process the return and print your return label.
Take along Flutes.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 857)
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