Retailers With The Best And Worst Return Policies

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Tell me if this sounds familiar: You just bought a pair of shoes, and they feel fantastic. They’re comfortable, stylish and totally worth the half-a-week’s pay you just dropped on them.

But after a day or so, the luster starts to fade. You realize just how similar they are to other shoes you own. They’re also about a half size too small, and the color isn’t quite as vibrant as you’d first thought. Maybe they weren’t worth the price afterall.

If you’ve ever experienced buyer’s regret, you know the importance of a good return policy. Whether the product is defective, not what you thought, or just an overly-hasty purchase, it’s nice to have the freedom to hit the reset button on a purchase.

But not every retailer gives you that freedom. Return policies can be loaded with complicated language and half-truths, making it difficult to know just how much of the cost you’ll actually recoup.

Retailers are also constantly changing their policies: L.L. Bean, a company with a history of allowing lenient returns, just limited their policy to one year after purchase.

Here are the retailers who make it easy to return purchases—and the ones who make it a nightmare.

Retailers with the best return policies

Nordstrom

Nordstrom has no official time limit on returns, though they do require a receipt or proof of purchase for cash returns.

According to the policy, they take every item on a case-by-case basis—so as long as you don’t bring in a dress you bought five years ago, you should be ok.

Eddie Bauer

Like many of the stores on this list, Eddie Bauer has no limit on when items can be returned for a refund. They only require a receipt for cash refunds; otherwise, the customer will get store credit.

The outdoor clothing retailer doesn’t offer free prepaid labels for online returns except during promotional periods, though you can return online items in-store.

Costco

The wholesale club is known for its stellar customer service, which includes one of the best return policies around. Costco’s only limit on returns is for major appliances and electronics, which have a 90-day window. Otherwise, there is no official time limit on returns as long as you have your receipt.

Bed Bath & Beyond

This home goods store is best known for its limitless 20 percent off coupons, but Bed Bath & Beyond is just as generous with its return policy.

Customers have one year to return an item for a cash refund. Returns made without a receipt will be for store credit only.

Zappos

This online shoe retailer has a reputation for great customer service—and one of the best return policies in the web-only space. The item must be unworn and in its original condition, which is typical for shoe returns.

Shoppers have a year after purchase to return the goods and get a cash refund. Items sold with a security tag must have the tag included in the return box.

Retailers with the worst return policies

Barnes & Noble

One of the last bookstore chains left, Barnes & Noble isn’t doing itself—or its customers—any favors with its stingy return policy. Customers have only 14 days to return items bought in-store or online, and they must be in original condition (no coffee rings or dogeared pages).

Forever21

The fast fashion giant is popular with teens and young adults looking for current trends and low prices, but they’re not so popular with people making returns. Forever21 has a 30-day refund policy— only for online purchases—and customers have to return the item by mail to get a cash refund.

Those who shop in-store can only exchange the item or get store credit. Underwear, makeup, lingerie, swimwear, some jewelry and final sale items can’t be returned at all.

Best Buy

Get something from Best Buy that you don’t like? It might already be too late to return it. The electronics superstore has a 15-day return policy for most products unless you’re a My Best Buy® Elite or My Best Buy® Elite Plus member.

They also charge a $35 restocking fee for cell phones and a 15 percent fee for some major appliances and DSLR cameras and accessories.

Lululemon

Famous for their $98 yoga pants, Lululemon sells an attitude of wellness along with their overpriced athleisure. Their return policy stipulates that all items be unworn, unwashed and have the original tag attached to receive a refund. Customers have 30 days after purchase to return the item with a receipt.

Amazon

Customers love this internet giant for its speedy delivery times and endless inventory, but they don’t love the return policy. Amazon allows 30 days for returns, but third-party stores who sell on Amazon have their own policies. Double check who you’re buying from before you shop.

Credit cards with purchase protection

Bought something you can’t return? Your credit card issuer might be able to offer you credit on your account if you can’t get a refund from the original retailer.

Citi

Citi cardholders have 90-day return protection when they purchase an item entirely with their Citi card or with Citi ThankYou points. The credit card issuer covers up to $500 per item and $2,500 for each calendar year. Computer software, video games and collectible items are not covered under this policy.

American Express

American Express cards come with extended warranties on purchases, up to one extra year if the original warranty is five years or less. If the item’s original warranty expires, you can file a claim directly through American Express.

You’ll need to keep your original receipt or proof of purchase, but it’s worth the hassle. If AmEx approves your claim, they’ll reimburse you the cost of the item, up to $10,000.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Card Details »

Chase offers return protection for items purchased within 90 days that the seller refuses to take back. Items are limited to $250 each, and returns are capped at $1,000 per year.

You must have attempted to return it to the original merchant first.

Summary

We’ve all made rash purchases and wished we could return them. Some stores have more relaxed return policies that allow you to get your money back easily. Other stores make return a nightmare in the hopes that you’ll give up.

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