When you buy something online it can be a giant pain to return it. It can also be a pain to the retailer you bought it from.

According to Business Insider, big retailers like Target, Walmart, and Amazon are issuing refunds for customers when they want to return something then bought but then telling them to keep the merchandise.

If you think this sounds like you are able to get stuff for free, you aren't wrong, but that also isn't completely accurate either.

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The occasion on which a retailer might give a customer a gift is not when they buy a $1,000 television. It's a policy aimed at customers who have a healthy history of purchases and only offer this benefit on lower-priced items.

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Not only would this policy be applied to inexpensive items, but especially when the merchandise is not likely to be sold again and the cost of shipping makes the juice not worth the squeeze.

The biggest expense associated with processing returns is the cost of shipping, Rick Faulk, the CEO of Locus Robotics, told The Journal. "Returning to a store is significantly cheaper because the retailer can save the freight, which can run 15% to 20% of the cost," he said.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, online sales skyrocketed. So did returns for merchandise sold online. Return-processing firm Narvar says that online returns jumped by 70 percent last year.

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Don't expect to order an iPad on your brand new Target account and expect to get a refund and keep the iPad. That probably won't happen. But if you order that Guns 'n Roses t-shirt that's only available in large when you need x-large, that might happen.

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