Ready for the holidays? One of the biggest hang-ups about this time of year — or any part, if you’re buying a lot of stuff — is worrying about whether or not you can easily return purchases. Given that the holiday season is a time when people are bum rushing stores en masse to get gifts, though, you’ll want to know for sure if your siblings or coworkers can return that sweater because it’s too big. Or too ugly. But not all return policies are created equally.
Some stores make it easy, and some stores make it extremely easy. Most high-end retail stores will bend over backward to make sure you’re happy. A lot of clothing stores, for example, will take back almost anything — assuming that you haven’t completely destroyed it. There are some wild stories out there too, including one retail store and a set of tires; We’ll get to that towards the end, though.
If you’re worried about return policies, here’s a cheat sheet for some of the most popular stores that have the easiest returns processes. If you want to ensure you’re buying something that can be easily returned, start here.
15. Sam’s Club
- Walmart’s bigger brother has a 100% guarantee on its products and its membership costs.
You may be a Costco person, or you could be a Sam’s Club person. Odds are, you aren’t shoveling out money for both memberships. You can’t go wrong either way, really, if return policies are something you worry about. Sam’s Club has a very generous policy, which will fetch you a full refund if you have a receipt. If you don’t, then they’ll give you a store gift card for the amount of the return. Also, you can get your membership refunded if you aren’t happy.
More stores with easy return policies: Next up, a national sporting goods retailer.
14. Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Not sure about that archery purchase? Dick’s has your back with a friendly return policy.
It may be one of the last big sporting goods retailers out there (R.I.P. Sports Authority and Gart Bros.), but Dick’s Sporting Goods is still pretty generous with its returns policies. While there are exclusions and restrictions on certain items, like guns and outboard motors, there’s a 60-day return window for almost everything else. Bring in a receipt, and you’ll get a refund. Without one, you’ll get store credit, just like at Sam’s Club.
Next: A struggling but still popular department store.
- The store may be mortally wounded at this point, but desperation breeds customer-friendly policy.
Despite rumors of its demise, JCPenney is still alive, and for savvy shoppers, it’s a great retail store to find good deals. It also has a good return policy, under which it allows you to make returns at any time on any item. You can even do it without a receipt — unless you’re trying to haul back items like electronics or high-end fashion products. The best part is that there doesn’t seem to be a time limit, with some exceptions.
Next: There’s one of these just about everywhere in America.
- We already covered Sam’s Club, and now for its smaller, more agile, corporate sibling.
The short story with Walmart returns is that it varies. Depending on the product you’re trying to return, it can be fairly easy. Most stuff isn’t that much of a pain to get rid of. Most of the exceptions are for electronics. For almost everything else, you’ll have 90 days to get the stuff back to the store for a full refund. Unless, of course, it’s damaged or unrecognizable.
Next: One of Walmart’s oldest and closest enemies.
- Like Walmart, it’s easy to buy a bunch of stuff at Target. And then need to return it.
There are some restrictions on what you can return to Target. But if you’re doing it right — that is, you have a receipt, the item is not open or damaged, and it’s within the time frame — the process should be easy. Target allows returns for most items within 90 days, but there are exceptions for some electronics and other products.
Next: An online behemoth.
- The retail giant makes it pretty easy to return stuff you don’t want.
It’s easy to order a whole slew of things from Amazon. Often, with just one click! But that’s the problem — a lot of times, you end up buying stuff you don’t need or want. Luckily, Amazon makes it relatively painless to send that stuff back. It’s going to depend on what you’re trying to return, of course, as Amazon sells just about everything. But typically, within a reasonable time frame, you can send things back free of charge and get refunded.
Next: A popular outdoors store with a great return policy.
- Outdoors equipment can be a tricky purchase. For that reason, R.E.I. is bendy on its policies.
Like many other stores on our list, R.E.I. has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. That means that if you aren’t happy with whatever you bought — be it a kayak, tent, or Patagonia sweater — you can bring it back for a full refund. That policy is in place for a year after purchase and assumes that you have a receipt. There are some exceptions, too, so be sure to check with the store regarding your specific item. And clean things up, too, before you bring them back.
Next: The hardest part of this store’s returns process is getting the items in the car for the trip back.
- Ikea allows you to return furniture as long as it doesn’t have too much wear and tear.
If you aren’t stoked with that MALM dresser, you can haul it back to Ikea for a refund within 45 days. You’ll need a receipt, and in many cases, the pieces can be partially assembled. As everyone knows, fitting a dresser or bed frame into your car for a return can be difficult — if not impossible. So, Ikea does give you some leeway in that respect.
Next: You’ll have a full year to bring items back to this department store.
- It’ll help if you have a store account at Bloomingdale’s.
Bloomingdale’s stores aren’t everywhere, and they fall under the corporate umbrella of Macy’s. Interestingly, though, Bloomingdale’s return policy is laxer than Macy’s. For purchases at Bloomingdale’s, you’ll have a full year to make your return (we’ll get to Macy’s next, hold your horses). That, of course, is contingent on if the item is still in good condition. If you don’t have a receipt, you’ll get store credit or your account will be credited.
Next: Everything’s on sale at this department store, and returning things is easy, too.
- Another store that’s struggling, you’re in the clear at Macy’s as long as you have a receipt.
Another struggling department store, Macy’s, will go out of its way to make its customers happy. That includes having a lax returns policy. You can get a full refund with a receipt, as you can almost anywhere. There used to be no time limit, but now, there is a 180-day window. With no receipt, though, you’ll get a gift card for store credit, and the amount will depend on the item’s lowest selling price over the past six months.
Next: Another big-box store with easy peasy return policies.
- Kohl’s is home to “Hassle-Free Returns.”
In addition to being “hassle-free”, returns at Kohl’s are also “no questions asked.” So, as you can imagine, they’re pretty darn lenient with what they will accept, and what you’ll get back. There are no time restrictions if you have a receipt, and you’ll get refunded in full. The best-case scenario, though, is if you used a Kohl’s Charge Card, in which case a store associate can track your purchases without a receipt. No receipt or charge card? You can get store credit.
Next: The only warehouse anyone enjoys wandering around.
- At Costco, you can even return your membership for a full refund.
We already covered Sam’s Club, which is about as close to Costco as you’re going to get. In terms of return policies, though, Costco has a slight edge — although they’re both more or less the same. You can return items at any time, with some restrictions, and you’ll get a full refund. Like many other stores, employees are supposed to do anything within reason to make you happy, and for heavy items, will even arrange to pick things up.
Next: The return policy at this store is “beyond” expectations.
3. Bed Bath & Beyond
- Receipt? Easy as pie. No receipt? As long as it’s been less than a year, you’re still in the clear.
The story at Bed Bath & Beyond is a lot like the others you’ve plowed through so far. The company tries to make returns as easy as possible, and has relatively few restrictions on what you can and can’t return. You can bring your items back to the store or mail them in, and the company will even pay for shipping costs. Having a receipt is the most painless way to do it, and if you don’t have one, you can still get a refund within a year of purchase.
Next: A 100% satisfaction guarantee from this store gives you a lot of leeway with returns.
2. L.L. Bean
- L.L. Bean’s policy is basically a free-for-all.
On any list like this, you’re bound to see the same few stores near the top. L.L. Bean is one of them, and for good reason. L.L. Bean’s associates are supposed to do whatever the hell they need to do to make sure you’re a happy camper — or customer. You can take things back at any time after purchase, and you don’t even need a receipt. No receipt will fetch you store credit, or you can simply replace what you have. You can also return things by mail.
Finally: A high-end retailer with possibly the most lenient return policy in the country.
- Legend has it that someone once returned a set of tires to Nordstrom. Nordstrom doesn’t sell tires.
It’s hard to find another retail store in America that has a better or more friendly return policy than Nordstrom. You can read all about the infamous tire story, which may or may not be true, or simply take advantage of retail’s easiest return process. Nordstrom does returns on a case-by-case basis, but it will do pretty much anything to make sure you’re happy. In other words, it’s very flexible and very customer-friendly. Don’t fear a purchase here.
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