Christmas trees tend to be like Halloween costumes — they have a "guaranteed fresh by" date until after the holidays, and then you have to find another use for them... or just part ways gracefully. Now that the ho-ho-holidays are over, many reluctantly threw out their pine-needled-friends — but not this tree who reportedly returned a dead Christmas tree. (Bustle has reached out to Costco regarding the tree, and will update upon response.)
California Christmas time usually means unideal conditions for evergreens to grow in. Thus, according to a customer who reportedly witnessed the incident, a woman in Santa Clara, Calif. took matters into her own hands after her tree died. Instead of giving the tree a proper burial, she dragged it to her local Costco on Jan. 4 and asked for a refund "because it died".
In a post on Facebook that has since been deleted, Scott Bentley recounted standing in line behind the woman returning the tree. Bentley said he was "irate" at the behavior, and the subsequent complicit refund.
"I can't make this stuff up," he wrote. I'm not sure either if I want this to be real or fake. Shaming things for dying is bad enough. But even worse — shaming Christmas trees, for doing their leafy job, seems just plain wrong.
KABC has a screenshot of the original post you can find here.
The very real tree in question, though, was reportedly returned. After all, Costco has some excellent 90-day return policies that my family has capitalized on before... just not with Christmas trees. I mean, how is the store going to resell this one?
And thus, the woman, who has not been identified, got her refund. Meanwhile a horrified Bentley "took a picture and said, 'Are you serious?!!!,'" according to the post.
Bentley scolded Costco itself for allowing the "ridiculous" return to occur.
To be fair, this kind of thing is a decidedly unprecedented. What's next? Returning a DVD after you watched it? Giving back coloring books once you colored them?
I mean, I once had a friend who returned an air mattress after using it for one night. But this is just ridiculous.
While Christmas trees are a far less common return (and will hopefully stay that way), you can return other things post-holiday slump, if you really needed your money back somehow.
Some Christmas lights apparently have a three year warranty. I don't know about you, but sometimes the ones I buy fizzle out before we're going on year two, and apparently when that happens, I'll be gucci if I bought them here! And don't forget your ordinary run-of-the-mill lawn decorations that don't show significant wear.
Usually about eight percent of annual retail sales are returned, according to a 2015 report from the National Retail Federation. Twenty percent of all returns also take place during the holiday season. Which makes sense — I know my mother used to move hell and high water to chase after gift receipts before the 30-day mark for the return period hit.
But cases like this tree are also quite common, and to be taken quite seriously. The National Retail Federation keeps track of fraudulent returns, and in 2017 estimated that returns rounded out to about $1,766.27 with an average purchase costing about $171. In clothes alone, The average cost of return fraud for clothing was $968.81, and it was strikingly high, and also as close to the average cost of shoplifting ($974.37).
All in all, maybe this woman got her money back, but no guarantee she'll ever make Santa's Nice List for next year now.