Stores refused refund for grieving mother’s baby items after stillbirth
“There was no compassion from the people that work in industries that are supposed to be all about babies,” Belinda said
Finding out that the child you have been carrying was stillborn is hard enough. Harder still is the grieving process that comes with it.
But for one mother, she finds that her heartache doesn’t end there.
At 38 weeks, Belinda Ainley from Melbourne birthed a stillborn son, who they had named Ash. Like all expecting mothers, she and her partner Aaron had prepared for the arrival of their baby by shopping for necessities, cribs and bibs and cots that their future child might need.
But after Belinda's stillbirth, the couple realised that they no longer want to try for another child and had no more use for all the items they had bought, and so they returned it to the store—or at least they tried.
They were refused.
According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, retailers of the baby items refused to give her a full refund on a brand new cot and unused gift voucher, despite her appeals on compassionate grounds for them to waive their store policies.
“There was no compassion from the people that work in industries that are supposed to be all about babies,” Belinda said. “You're left feeling like you not only don't have your baby, but that you don't count because everybody feels too awkward to talk about it and so nothing happens.”
One Melbourne store refused to give her a full refund because the item was no longer in its original packaging; instead they gave her a partial refund.
Then she got in touch with a major clothing retailer in Australia and asked about the gift voucher. The company replied that refunding gift vouchers was against store policy.
“There's been many thousands of dollars in funeral and cremation costs, and medical tests for myself and Ash to try and find a cause of death,” she added. “But returning these things wasn't just about getting the money back. It's also a question of, 'What do we do with a car seat when we don't have a baby?’”
While people recognise the place from which the grieving mother was coming from, not everyone sympathizes with Belinda and her frustrations.
In the comments section of a Mama Mia report on the same story, one user said: “While it would have been a nice gesture for the retailer to refund the items, they were under absolutely no obligation to.
"She is essentially asking the retailer to be out of pocket $600 because she lost her baby which, while unfortunate, is not the retailers fault.”
Another said, “She disposed of the packaging. Why should the store have to absorb the cost because of her misfortune?
"When the same thing happened to me, I never considered trying to return the items I bought - I had opened and set everything up, it was no longer in "as new" condition (everything was pre-washed in preparation, as we're advised to do).”
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