The 10 Best (and Worst) Store Return Policies


By: Jon Corrigan

Chances are you (or someone you bought for) will return return a gift after the holidays. When you do so, it’s important to keep in mind retailers’ return policies. Some are extremely flexible, while others are, well, not so much.

Retailers with the worst return policies:

5. Sears

A return requires a receipt or other proof of purchase (within 30 days). Returning an item with a gift receipt is only good for exchanges or refunds via gift cards.

4. GameStop

Allows just 30 days for returns and won’t make a return without a receipt. Items returned with a gift receive can only be exchanged or refunded store credit.

3. Barnes & Noble

Returns must be made within two weeks of purchase, in addition to being unopened and in their original condition. However, refunds will be made in the initial form of payment.

2. Kmart

Allows just 30 days for returns and requires a receipt. Gift receipt items can only be exchanged or receive store credit. Also, many items (such as music, movies and video games) will not be accepted if the packages are opened.

1. Forever 21

Allows 21 days for returns (that’s cute) and can only exchanged for other items or for store credit. All items must be unworn, unwashed and unused (tags still attached). For online purchases, the return window is 30 days and refunds are to the credit card used to pay.  Lastly, cosmetics and gift cards are “final sale” items and cannot be returned except to correct a defect.

Retailers with the best return policies:

5. Costco

There is no time limit placed on returns (except for electronics, which have a 90-day policy). The store prefers the item comes in the original packaging and with a receipt, however employees will do their best to process your return with it.

4. JCPenney

The store will make a full return at any time for any item, no receipt required and no original packaging (except on certain items like electronics or jewelry). Returns made without a receipt will receive store credit.

3. Bed Bath & Beyond

Returns are fairly easy at this store, with only a few restrictions. There is no time limit for most items. Returns made with a receipt will be refunded with the original form of payment, except for gift receipts which are given store credit. Also, if you don’t have a receipt, employees can look up any sale made in the last 365 days. If there is no record of sale, you still get a refund in store credit equal to the item’s current purchase price minus 20 percent.

2. L.L. Bean

This store also makes it easy, with a policy of “If your purchase isn’t completely satisfactory, we’re happy to accept your exchange or return at any time for items purchased directly from us,” even after years of use. Receipts make the process easier, but are not required. Returns without a receipt will be refunded in store credit at the item’s current selling price.

1. Nordstrom

What makes this store’s return policy great is the fact it doesn’t exist. Every return is handled on a case-by-case basis with an objective of satisfying the customer. Employees are given flexibility and returns can be made without a receipt, without tags and even on worn items (excluded special occasion dresses).

Note: the Nordstrom Rack return policy is different, only granting 90 days for returns and requires the original tags and receipt.

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