Negative Order Items (Credit Note)

We are having trouble dealing with returned items and keeping the inventory synchronised and matching payments in our bank.

If a customer purchases a number of items and then decides to return one item it seems impossible to issue a credit note and have that item returned to the inventory.

Ideally it would be great to be able to place an order with negative inventory amounts. This way if a customer requests to exchange an item for a different item and then pay the difference, we could place an order in admin with item (a) -1, item (b) 1 and the order total would be the difference.

To issue a credit note simply copy an order and change the required items to negative. The negative amount would match the refund in the bank and the items would be returned to inventory.

I haven't seen an addon that offers this functionality. Any thoughts on how to deal with the problem.