2022 Return Policy Survey: New Return Fees NOT Common<! -------------------COLUMN 2 (MIDDLE) ----------------------- -->
Extended holiday return policies allow gifts bought as early as October 1, such as in Walmart's case, to be returned until mid- to late-January, considerably beyond the normal deadline. What hasn't changed is the complexity of stores' return policies that are designed in part to reduce return fraud. The combined policies for the dozen chains surveyed amount to over 35,000 words and 79 pages of fine print.
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Noteworthy changes and novel return policies for 2022 include:
"Many major retailers continue to recognize the longer holiday shopping season and give customers more time to make returns. And while some companies have begun imposing return fees, the dozen big retailers in our survey held the line with no new or increased fees and the vast majority still provide free returns in person and by mail," said Edgar Dworsky, Founder of Consumer World®, a leading consumer education website.
Summarized below are some chains with generous regular or holiday return deadlines and their return fees, if any, for online purchases:
|Amazon.com||January 31 for most items shipped Oct. 11 thru Dec.31. Some returns have restocking fees. Most returns free using dropoff locations. Fees for mailed change-of-mind returns.|
|Bed, Bath & Beyond||90-day return period for most items. 30 days for smart tech (but Jan. 31 for those items purchased Nov. 15 onward). 30 days for seasonal; 60 days for electrics. If there is no receipt and it is not findable, a 20% fee is deducted from the refund for customer's presumed coupon use. Free return shipping.|
|Best Buy||January 14 for most purchases made between October 24 - December 31. Totaltech members generally get more time. Some restocking fees. Free returns with their label.|
|Costco||No deadline, but 90 days for: TVs, computers, cameras, smart watches, MP3 players, cellphones, monitors, major appliances, etc. Free returns for Costco.com purchases.|
|Home Depot||90-day deadline most items. Others 2-30 days. Free returns.|
|Kohl's||180-day deadline, but prem. electronics, watches, Sephora bought after Nov. 1 returnable until Jan. 31. No free shipping.|
|Macy's stores||90-day deadline for most returns. Holiday return deadline of January 31 for most items purchased October 3 or later, but seven exceptions apply. Apple products bought 12/3-12/24 returnable 'til Jan 8. Free mail returns for Macys.com orders.|
|Marshalls||January 25 for purchases October 9 - December 25. These retailers post clear in-store signs about their extended holiday return policy every year - a rarity among retailers. $10.99 fee deducted for postage/handling for .com mailed returns.|
|Staples||No deadline for office supplies. January 23 for electronics, and furniture bought since November 13. Free online returns.|
|TJ Maxx||January 25 for purchases October 9 - December 25. These retailers post clear in-store signs about their extended holiday return policy every year - a rarity among retailers. $10.99 fee deducted for postage/handling for .com mailed returns.|
|Target||90 days most items. 30 days for electronics and entertain. items, 15 days for most Apple items, 14 days for cell phones. Days begin 12/26 for these non-90-day items bought since 10/6. RedCard holders get 30 extra days. Free mail returns.|
|Walmart stores||90 days most items. For the following purchases made from October 1 onward, 30 days (most electronics), and 14 days for cellphones, but count days starting December 26. Free mail returns for online purchases.|
Return policy law varies state to state. Generally, a store can set up any return policy it wants, whether it is "all sales final", "merchandise credit only", or "all returns in 30 days." Many states require the policy to be clearly disclosed to the buyer prior to purchase, usually by means of a conspicuous sign. Some states do not consider a disclosure that only appears on the sales receipt to meet this requirement. It is not unreasonable, however, to require customers to provide a sales slip or gift receipt to establish where and when the item was purchased, and at what price. Those with a gift receipt will generally only receive an even exchange or store credit, but not cash.
TIPS FOR HASSLE-FREE RETURNS
Posted: December 15, 2022
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