Sunday, September 15, 2013

All Sales Final: A Painful Lesson in Decision Making

Can You Fix a Non-Refundable Decision?

A few years ago, I was in need of a dress to wear to a formal event. Hours of shopping left me with no dress and few ideas. Online shopping had the chance to save the day. I scoured websites until I found a beautiful dress, just my style.  I had admired it in the pictures all season. Better still, the dress had gone on sale and was now less than 1/2 of the original price!

Excitedly, I selected my size and placed the item in my shopping cart. I hurried to “check out” so I could guarantee the dress would be mine.

When the day finally came, I took the box into the house and quickly opened it, expecting to see an exquisite sight before my eyes. What I saw instead was a cheap-looking, wrinkled piece of material sewn into the shape of a dress. The dress was not the high-quality material it had appeared to be from the photos and the shipping process left the gown misshapen, crumpled and looking like an old rag. I was disappointed by the appearance, but I still hoped it would transform once I put it on.

A final zip up the back and I peered into the mirror. My face fell at the sight. I tugged at the sides, urging the fabric to lie nicely on my hips. Then I re-tied the ribbon to force a better fit. The longer I fussed with it, the more the knot in my stomach grew.

I looked in the mirror and was more than disappointed. The gorgeous dress I had longed for was little more than an oversized piece of fabric with ribbon for a belt.

Realizing I wasn’t going to be able to salvage the dress and make it into a suitable outfit, I decided I would have to return it. I grabbed the packing slip to see what the instructions were for the return. Only then did I see the black ink stamped across the page, “All Sales Final. No Returns or Exchanges.”

In my excitement to purchase the dress at the discounted price, I hadn’t checked to examine the return policy. Now, I was stuck, and it was no one’s fault but my own.

Non-refundable. All sales final. I’d taken a costly chance and lost my money.

I wore an old dress to the event, but realized how grateful I was it cost me only a few dollars. Some decisions have generous "return policies" that allow for simple exchanges. Other choices have consequences that last forever and no person can remove the penalty, regardless of the sorrow, intention or well-meaning of the buyer. 

The dress went to Good Will but the lesson will stay with me forever. Any choices you'd change if you could? 


  1. Jodi I love this, so true. It is well worth slowing down a bit in our hurried lives to determine our goals and think things through before we rush into them, whether the decision seems large or small at the time. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thanks, Celeste! Thinking about my decisions before I act on them would sure save me a lot of headaches! :)

  3. I've missed you! I've missed your writing. Good to see you back.

    1. Amy, thank you! So good to hear from you! Love ya. Jodi