Comparison shopping for the best prices is not enough. You should shop around also for the best return policy. There’s no such thing as “many happy returns” after the holidays. These tips will save you time and money, along with stress.
The good news is that customer loyalty has prompted many retailers to extend and bend normal return policies to avoid penalizing early-bird shoppers.
The bad news is that there’s no universal return policy. Each retailer decides on his or her own return policy, which even could be different for purchases made in person in the store vs. purchased online.
So, know the return policy when you shop for holiday gifts.
In general, keep these tips in mind to reduce the hassle of returns or exchanges:Keep the receipt: Whether you’re a gift giver or a recipient, having a receipt, packing slip, or gift receipt always puts you in a better position for a return or exchange.
- If you hate saving paper, snap a photo, or take advantage of e-receipts that you can store in your email inbox.
Early bird: Don’t wait too long after the New Year. Even stores with generous return policy extensions aren’t likely to help you come February.
Read the fine print: Exclusions always apply, and many retailers expect items to be unopened and in original packaging.
That being said, here are the return policies for some major chains for the 2015 holiday season and beyond:
Amazon: Any items shipped by Amazon.com between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, may be returned until January 31, 2016, for a full refund. If you’re the gifter, include the gift receipt or packing slip so the recipient has the order number handy for returns.
Walmart: Its general policy is that most returns can be made within 90 days after purchase. While certain items only have a 15- or 30-day limit (like TVs, cameras, computers, DVD and music players, etc.), for purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, the limited return period will begin Dec. 26.
Target: Like Walmart, most unopened items in new condition can be returned within 90 days, but electronics and entertainment items have a smaller 30 day window. Anything purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25 will use the start date of Dec. 26. Target debit and credit REDcard card holders receive an extra 30 days to return nearly all items purchased with their REDcard either in a store or online. Watch out for modified return policies noted on the receipt or packing slip of certain items.
Best Buy: While their normal return policy is a skimpy 15 days, you can return or exchange almost everything bought in November and December through January 15, 2016.
Kohl’s: Kohl’s has one of the best return policies around, 365 days a year. In essence, it has no time restrictions on purchases, and if the item was bought with a Kohl’s charge card, you don’t even need a receipt.
JC Penney: All items are eligible for exchange or refund of the purchase price on the original method of payment. There is no time frame mentioned except for fine jewelry and some electronics, which have a 60 day policy, and a 30 day policy for furniture. Without a receipt, items purchased at JCP are eligible for exchange or refund at the item’s lowest selling price within the last 45 days issued in the form of a merchandise return voucher.
K-Mart: Any returns are accepted within 30 days of purchase. While no specific holiday policy is noted, an original receipt or email confirmation is required for all returns and exchanges. Special items like consumer electronics, gas powered equipment, and watches and jewelry have shorter grace periods, some just seven days, so ask if you plan to buy things in those categories.
Macy’s: As long as you have proof of purchase, you can receive a full refund in the original form of payment or store credit if you’re returning a gift. With no proof of purchase, credit will be issued in the form of a “Happy Returns” Gift Card for the item’s lowest selling price within the last 180 days.
Sears: Select items purchased between Nov. 8 and Dec. 24 have extended return periods as follows: Items which typically have a 30-day return period under the standard return policy may be returned through January 24, 2016. Exceptions include floor care equipment, vacuums, major home appliances, sewing machines, water treatment, plumbing, heating equipment – none of which are covered by the extended Holiday Return Policy.
Toys “R” Us: They’ve gotten better about their return policy in the last couple of years, but be sure to have a receipt or gift receipt. Most returns can be made within 90 days of the purchase date.
Thanks to sister website Living on the Cheap for researching the return policies of these major chains.