Because Sometimes You Change Your Mind
The holidays are finally here and we’re sure your shopping list is getting longer by the day. The only thing worse than standing in line to shop for goods around the holidays is standing in line to return them later. So we’ve picked out eight of the best stores for returns.
These retailers combine longer than usual time limits on returns so you can wait until after the holiday rush to re-enter the store. Plus, many of these stores offer cash refunds, easy exchanges and fast, free shipping options so you can ditch the store all together.
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There is no time limit for returning items to Nordstrom (Stock Quote: JWN). If you don’t have a receipt, you can either print one out in the store (if you ordered online) or just provide the credit card that you used at the time of the purchase.
Best of all, the store will give you a full refund on your item months or even years after the purchase. Pretty much the only limitation on the Nordstrom return policy is that they won’t refund the shipping costs on your order if there were shipping costs to begin with.
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Like Nordstrom, most items at Costco (Stock Quote: COST) have no time limit for returns and you don’t even need a receipt. When you return the item to any one of the Costco warehouses worldwide, you will get “an immediate refund.” Amazingly, this actually includes any shipping and handling costs you may have had. So it’s as though the purchase never happened.
However, Costco’s return policy used to be even more open. Back in 2007, the company decided to restrict returns of electronics purchases to just 90 days, but even that is better than most stores. By comparison, Best Buy (Stock Quote: BBY) only gives customers 14 days to return many of its electronic items, including computers and digital cameras.
Keep in mind that returns are up to the store manager’s discretion. As one customer service representative told me on the phone, some customers have tried to return computers that were filled with water and couches covered in paint. They were promptly turned away.
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According to Macy’s Web site, customers can “exchange or return most merchandise for a full refund ... based on the original form of payment, within 180 days of purchase.” 180 days? That’s half a year!
On top of that, items that you purchase online can be returned in the store (though the reverse is not true), so you don’t have to deal with shipping hassles. However, there are some restrictions. Unlike Costco, they won’t refund you the shipping cost. Also, you do need to provide “proof of purchase,” so don’t walk in without your receipt.
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There is no time limit on returning goods to this store. According to L.L Bean’s Web site, “We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.” So anytime you feel that your L.L. Bean attire is letting you down, don’t just suffer its everlasting presence in your closet; bring it in to the store and get rid of it. They also have an excellent system in place for exchanges.
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Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us
Given how fickle kids can be, it’s essential that you shop at a children’s store with a flexible return policy. That’s why we like the policies at these two stores. You can return items within 90 days and get cash back if you paid in cash or check.
It is possible to return items without a receipt if they were purchased with plastic or through a baby registry. Shipping costs will also be refunded. Online purchases must be returned within 30 days, and electronics from the store must be returned within 45 days. All items should be in their original packaging.
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Home Depot also gives you 90 days to return your items and will either refund you in cash, credit your account or let you exchange the item for something else, as long as you have a receipt. The only downside is that you are not allowed to return custom-made products and gift cards. So think twice before you invest big bucks in fancy custom Legacy doors.
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Zappos, the popular online shoe retailer, lets customers return items within 365 days for a full refund. Zappos will even pay for the shipping costs of returning the item. Just make sure that the item is “in its original condition.” Some have even argued that this extended return policy helps Zappos increase their sales by limiting the risk of buying shoes online without getting to try them on first.
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Barnes and Nobles
Ordinarily, the policy is that purchases made online or in the store need to be returned within 14 days. However, the guidelines have changed a bit for the holidays. Items bought after Nov. 1 this year can be returned anytime until the end of January 2010. You will need a receipt to get a refund, but you will get money back on your credit card and, unlike many stores, if you paid in cash, you will get cash back, rather than a store credit.
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