I had an interesting experience with a product return today. First some background: my wife picked up a Wii game as a present for our daughter the other day. It sat in the bag for a couple of hours, and then she looked at some online reviews - and they pretty much sucked. So, we wanted to return the game - but in the interim, we had shredded the receipt (and she paid in cash).
So, I wasn't terribly surprised when Target said they wouldn't let us exchange it, even though the box was unopened. What I was surprised by was this: they'll accept such exchanges so long as the price was $20 or under, and they said the reason was inventory control. Basically, their software had no way to account for such a return. The clerk told us that they used to accept such returns - it's a relatively recent change.
This smelled like rigid software to me. Mind you, we had no receipt, so I'm hardly in a position to be angry about it. Now, I'm sure that the ERP software they use saves them money (at least on paper) - but having the clerk explain that they couldn't take it back due to their inventory system just didn't go down well.
Still, like I said - not having a receipt made this problem mostly ours. So I was pleasantly surprised by Sears' take on this. They were willing to take the exchange, no questions asked - so we not only exchanged it, we bought another game and a Wiimote.
I'd guess that an MBA would laud Target's inventory control and software - and criticize the one Sears has. What they would miss is that the more flexible system at Sears allows for exceptions - and people are really good at creating exceptions. The stores that allow for such exceptions are the ones that make me happier, that's for sure.