Retailers With the Most Flexible Return Policies
These merchants give customers a year or more to get a refund on most unwanted items.
It's the season of giving—and some people just aren't that great at it. If you are one of those well-intentioned people who struggle to select the perfect gifts for all your picky loved ones, consider shopping where the return policies are most flexible.
While most merchants give customers at least 30 days to return items, several well-known retailers—including Home Depot, Lowe's, Target, Toys "R" Us and Walmart—have a 90-day return window for most items (electronics tend to be the exception and typically have 15- or 30-day limits, and online purchases from ToysRUs.com have a 30-day window for returns). And other stores are even more generous when it comes to granting exchanges and refunds.
Mind you, if you don't have a receipt, even the most generous stores tend to only offer store credit for the lowest price at which the returned item sold recently. (Walmart is an exception—its policy gives cash refunds in stores for items under $25, even without a receipt.) Be sure to include a gift receipt with all your presents.
We examined the return policies of dozens of popular retailers and found that these 16 have particularly flexible terms. Most of them don't place a time limit on returns and allow customers to bring back almost anything (even items that have been worn) for a refund. The descriptions below highlight the key points of retailers' policies. For more details, visit their Web sites.
No Time Limit on Returns
Anthropologie unconditionally guarantees its merchandise and allows customers to return or exchange items if they're not satisfied for any reason. Customers who don't have a receipt—or packing list for online purchases—for merchandise bought more than a year ago will be refunded at the items' current selling prices. Furniture, however, must be returned within 30 days for a full refund. Furniture with a defect can be replaced for up to one year.
Athleta, a fitness apparel brand owned by Gap Inc., allows customers to return any item at any time. There are no limitations on what can be returned for a refund. You can also ship returns of online orders for free.
Bath & Body Works has no time limit on returns and will issue a full refund to customers with a receipt. Customers with a gift receipt can exchange items or receive store credit for the purchase price on the gift receipt. Customers without a receipt can exchange merchandise or receive store credit based on the lowest selling price of an item.
Bed Bath & Beyond permits returns with the original receipt any time after purchase. With a gift receipt, you can get a refund in the form of store credit. If you have no receipt, and the purchase was made in the last year, you can get an exchange or refund for the current selling price minus 20%. Or you can request additional research be done to locate the original purchase.
Bloomingdale's allows customers to return or exchange most items, including sale items, any time after purchase. Merchandise that has been worn cannot be returned, and some dresses cannot be returned if the tags are removed. There are stricter return rules for certain types of household merchandise, such as furniture, mattresses and area rugs.
Costco does not have a time limit on returns or exchanges of items other than some electronics and tech gadgets. Televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, tablets, MP3 players and cell phones must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a full refund. Receipts are preferred but not required for returns or exchanges because this members-only warehouse club can track purchases through customers' accounts.
Garnet Hill, a mail-order catalog and online merchant, allows customers to return or exchange anything at any time for a full refund. There's no shipping charge to exchange an item, but there is a $6.95 shipping fee for returns.
JC Penney lets customers with a receipt exchange most items at any time or receive a refund of the purchase price on the original method of payment. Exceptions include furniture, which must be returned within 30 days, and jewelry and electronics, which must be returned within 60 days. And special-occasion dresses must be returned in their original condition with the green return tag in place. Customers with a gift receipt can exchange items or receive a gift card for the amount listed on the receipt. Customers without a receipt must show a photo ID to exchange items or get a refund, in the form of a gift card, for the item's lowest selling price within the last 45 days.
Kohl's has a "No Questions Asked—Hassle Free" return policy for all purchases. Even without a receipt, the retailer's sales associates can locate Kohl's charge card purchases up to 12 months after the purchase date and apply a credit to a customer's account. Purchases not made with a Kohl's charge card or made outside the 12-month time frame qualify for a store credit or a corporate-issued refund. Customers with a gift receipt can exchange items or receive store credit or a corporate-issued refund. And customers without a receipt can exchange items or receive a corporate-issued refund or a store credit based on the lowest 13-week sale price, if they didn't pay with a Kohl's charge or other major credit card.
Lands' End guarantees that customers can return any item at any time for an exchange or refund. It offers free shipping on exchanges, and customers can avoid the $6.95 shipping fee on returns by taking items back to a Sears store. For gift returns with no record of purchase, you can receive a gift card valued at the returned item's lowest sale price.
L.L. Bean lets customers exchange or return purchases for a refund at any time. Customers without a receipt will receive a gift card for the current selling price of an item if the retailer can't locate the purchase record.
Macy's does not have a time limit on returns and exchanges. A full refund in the original form of payment will be made to purchasers with receipts. Anyone with a gift receipt can receive a gift card for the full purchase price of an item. Those without a gift receipt will get a gift card for the item's lowest price within the last 180 days.
Nordstrom does not have a return policy. So there are no time limits for returns or exchanges. Salespeople evaluate return and exchange requests on a case-by-case basis. Receipts are helpful but not necessary for returns or exchanges. Usually, Nordstrom Rack merchandise must be returned unaltered and unworn within 90 days of purchase with its original price tag and receipt or packing slip—and a photo ID is required for all in-store cash refunds.
Boden, a British clothing company (with an American-specific site), has a "no-quibble returns policy" that gives you a full refund on items purchased within the last 90 days. After that, until a year after your order arrived, you can still exchange your item or get a store credit. The shop takes $7 out of your refund to cover shipping costs for returns; the fee is waived for exchanges.
REI, an outdoor gear and sporting goods retailer, allows one year for items to be returned for a refund or replacement with proof of purchase. Used items must be cleaned before they are returned. Normal wear and tear or damage caused by improper use is not covered by REI's "100% Satisfaction Guaranteed" policy.
Zappos, an online shoe and apparel retailer, will give customers a full refund if they send items back in their original condition and packaging up to 365 days from the purchase date. Just as all purchases ship for free, all returns can be sent for free with a prepaid shipping label that can be printed from Zappos.com.