GREENSBORO, N.C. — They say it’s the thought that counts, but maybe that’s only really true if you can return it for something you actually want. While some stores will let you return anything, even without a receipt, others are more strict. That’s where Consumer Reports comes in with its helpful guide to stores with the best and worst return policies.
Nordstrom has one of the most lenient policies, generally with no time limit and no receipt required on most returns. But that’s not the norm this year.
"Some retailers have made their return policies a little bit more restrictive this year — whether they’ve ended expanded COVID-19 policies or they’re offsetting increased costs due to inflation. What this means for you as a shopper is that if you’re thinking of buying anything you might need to return, make sure you read that policy carefully first," said Samantha Good, Consumer Reports.
Bed Bath & Beyond used to give shoppers a full year to make returns. But now the return window is 90 days for most items. Less for electronics and smart home products.
L.L.Bean used to allow returns with no time limit and no receipt required, but now customers have one year, and only IF you can show proof of purchase.
Kohl’s gives shoppers up to 180 days for returns on most purchases. If you don’t have a receipt, no problem. The store can look up previous purchases.
You’ll have 90 days to return items at Walmart, Target, and Macy’s, but not all merchandise qualifies, so check out the exceptions online.
At Costco, electronics and appliances have to be returned within 90 days — but for most of the items it sells, there’s no time limit on returns and you don’t even need the receipt.
Amazon is extending its typical 30-day return window, but for the holiday season, most items can be returned up until the end of January. But be aware that items purchased through third-party sellers may have different return policies.
"The best shot at getting that refund or store credit is to make sure you don’t open any of the packaging, and save a gift receipt if you have one," said Good.
Another tip: You can often save money on shipping fees if you order online. Don’t worry, most retailers will still let you return in person at the store. Just don’t forget to bring your ID! To cut down on people trying to scam their return systems, some merchants will scan and store data from your ID to track your shopping and return history.