Why is it nearly impossible to return software?

I bought a scale a few weeks ago at Fred Meyer. When I got it home, it didn’t work so I returned it for a full refund. Same thing happened with a portable blow-up mattress we bought at Costco. We had no trouble returning both items.

Compare that with purchasing software. You’d better do your homework because returning software for a refund is nearly impossible if the box has been opened. I suppose this has something to do with the fact that it’s easier to make a digital copy of a CD/DVD than to replicate a blow up mattress. But it can still make for a disappointing buying experience.

For example, I purchased a game called ShawdowRun that is supposed to run on Windows Vista. In fact, according to the fancy box, it requires Vista to run. Well, I tried installing it four times on Kim’s Vista machine with no luck. It would appear to install correctly but the game wouldn’t launch. Never mind this is a game released by Microsoft Game Studios.

But because I’ve opened the box, I can only return it to the store for the same item which does absolutely no good. I guess I could sell it on eBay for less than I paid for the game, but that’s not the point. I bought an item that was advertised to work, yet I have no recourse that remedies the problem.

The whole thing  leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t pirate the game. I didn’t make a copy of the game and try to return it. Software return policies assume I’m a criminal instead of treating me like a customer.

Costco can figure out a fair way for their customers to return computers and big screen TVs within a reasonable amount of time. If Costco can do this for large ticket items, why can’t software companies come up with a reasonable return policy?

I’m to the point where I just don’t trust much software anymore which means I’ll only buy programs I must have, like Turbo Tax, and continue to look for freeware options.

3 thoughts on “Why is it nearly impossible to return software?

  1. CALL Microsoft Game Studios and ask them for help, look up their website address and phone number on the software package, they should be able to guide you to the fix…when you paid for the game, you also paid for software support….


  2. I looked online for solutions but still couldn’t get it to work. Believe me, I wasted hours trying to get that dang game to work. I eventually removed Vista from the machine and went back to XP, although I’ve come across some hacks that might get ShadowRun working on XP. I think I’ll just sell it and find another game, it’s been such a crappy experience.


  3. Oh, I feel your pain. After running all the appropriate compatability tests (according to Microsoft.com) I purchased an upgrade from XPHome to XPPro so my TabletPC could talk to the network at school – I want to teach off the tablet kind of like a SmartBoard. After an hour and a half on the phone with Microsoft Support because the product key would not work, they tell me that “Oh, TabletPC’s have snippets of XPPro code in them so you’ll have to load 98 or ME, then upgrade. Just borrow a friend’s cd and product code.” First, I’m shocked that it took 1.5 hrs. for them to tell me this. Second, I’m shocked they’re saying to use somebody’s cd without paying for it. Okay. Then a day later they tell me that, by the way, you won’t be able to use the laptop as a tablet if you upgrade to XP Pro. Arrrrggghhh. And of course I can’t get the $90 back that I paid for the upgrade software. I will NOT be upgrading my Tablet! Just shoot me now.


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