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The Wall Street Journal reports on how companies like Amazon, Walmart and Target are using artificial intelligence to determine when it makes sense to tell consumers who want to return an item bought online that they should just keep it, and refund their money.  " For inexpensive items or large ones that would incur hefty shipping fees, it is often cheaper to refund the purchase price and let customers keep the products," the Journal writes.

According to the story, "A Target Corp. spokeswoman said the retailer gives customers refunds and encourages them to donate or keep the item in a small number of cases in which the company deems that option is easier than returning the purchase.

"A Walmart spokeswoman said the 'keep it' option is designed for merchandise it doesn’t plan to resell and is determined by customers’ purchase history, the value of the products and the cost of processing the returns.

"Amazon didn’t provide a comment."

The Journal writes that "the number of e-commerce packages that were returned in 2020 jumped 70% from 2019," and that "e-commerce returns could total as much as $70.5 billion for this past holiday season alone."