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Seen At 11: Retailers Punishing Repeat Online Returners

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A warning if you shop online and have a habit of returning items, you may be in for a surprise -- more retailers are starting to take notice and some are even punishing repeat offenders.

As CBS 2's Kristine Johnson reported, many retailers are starting to charge fees on all sorts of merchandise to help offset the cost of returns, which is estimated to be nearly $400 billion in losses each year.

Like many people, Magda Walczak does a lot of online shopping. And like many people, she also makes a lot of returns.

"About half the things that I actually buy, I end up returning," Walczak said.

However, some experts say next time she makes a return, it could cost her more.

"The days of using your living room as a fitting room are yes, going to be coming to a close," retail expert Carol Spieckerman said. "For retailers, returns are an absolute nightmare."

Some retailers are also hiring outside firms to help keep tabs on customers returns, Johnson reported.

"We look at returns in relation to the profitability of a customer. So for example, if you return 50 items, that can be really terrible if you only keep one.  But of course if you return 50 items and end up buying 200, that's fantastic," explained Dominique Levin, of AgilOne.

In addition to charging restocking fees, stores may also start revoking free shipping, Johnson reported.

Promotions and coupons may also be a thing of the past for customers who frequently return merchandise.

"Most stores really would rather have you continue to do business with them rather than their competitors. However, what we do see is stores starting to find ways to perhaps spend less money on you or find ways to have you return less," Levin told Johnson.

The good news?  You can improve your status with a store by starting to keep more items than you return because customer profiles are refreshed frequently.

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