Before You Return Gifts, Check Out Return Policy Tweaks

Retailers are always tweaking their return policies, weighing the delicate balance between protecting their bottom lines and treating customers with fairness. No two return policies ever seem to be the same, and even if they are, changes come along soon enough to differentiate them once again.

Consumer World rounds up return policy adjustments from several different stores. Here are some highlights (bear in mind that policies can vary in different regions):

* Target has now cut computer hardware returns to 45 days from 90 and dropped its restocking fee, as has Best Buy.

* Sears now only accepts computers returned within 30 days, rather than 60.

* Walmart is only accepting cameras returned within 15 days of purchase instead of 30. Purchases after Nov. 1 fall under its more lenient holiday return policy.
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* Sports Authority does not accept returns of items bought online.

Be sure to check with your specific location before hauling in items to be returned. Bring receipts whenever possible, and if you know you’re going to return a gift as soon as you get it, don’t open the box.

Some Retailers Naughty, Most Nice [Consumer World]

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  1. notovny says:

    Could have sworn Sears had had a 30-day return policy on all electronics printed on the back of their receipts since about ’05.

    Admittedly, I haven’t been in a Sears store that sold computers since about ’04.

  2. kelcema says:

    I enjoy working for Trader Joe’s. “We Tried It, We Liked It. If You Don’t Like It, Bring It Back.” Simple and fair for all. Except for the lady once who returned something she’d had in her cupboard for (seriously) several years… We still took it back, but I didn’t buy her “My husband just bought it a couple of weeks ago” line. :)

  3. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i’ve always wondered what happens if you buy something under one return policy and it changes after your purchase but within the previous policy’s window of opportunity.
    say, if the return policy was 90 days and got shortened to 30 days and you decide to return somewhere from 31-89 days.
    if the store had the policies printed on the receipt you could make a case for the previous policy but what if there’s no written record of the previous policy?

    • ColoradoShark says:

      Nothing to wonder about. You made a “contract” when you bought the item that includes the return period. The theory being that you might not have bought the item if the return period were less generous.

      For example: When you buy the item as a Christmas gift on December 1st, they say you can return it until January 10th. Then, after you buy it, they change the policy to a 10 day return period meaning it has to be return by December 10th. Would you have bought it in that circumstance?

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i meant more in terms of – is anyone aware of legal protections?

        • OSAM says:

          The implied contract that is the sale is your legal recourse. it’s a civil issue regardless, but because you purchased the item with Return Policy A it means that, even if you were to return it during Return Policy B, you should still, legally, get Return Policy A. If not, the store/seller is in the wrong.

  4. maxhobbs says:

    I still love Sam’s Club, 90 days for TVs and other electronics and unlimted for anything else.

    I will never forget the time I took back a mattress and box spring after 3 years and they gave me my money back and didn’t even ask a question.

    • OSAM says:

      You, sir, are why the rest of the world can’t have nice things. What POSSIBLE reason could you have for returning your mattress after 3 years?

      Besides the fact that most mattresses come with 10-15 year warranties (which you should take up with the manufacturer, not the retailer), there’s absolutely no possible rational explanation other than “You’re a dick”

  5. Bionic Data Drop says:

    Or people could just start thinking more before they buy. I have been shopping with my own money for about 17 years. I’ve returned one pair of pants that didn’t fit and one defective hard drive. That is my entire return history. I will never understand why people need to return several to several dozen items a year and then get all butt hurt because they can’t follow simple return policies.

  6. I Love Christmas says:

    I bought a Blue Wii on Black Friday at Wal-Mart, then decided I could not afford to give it as a gift.

    I tried to return it to Wal-Mart, with the original receipt, on December 22 but was told, sorry this item is outside of our 15 day return policy for electronics.

    So Wal-Mart’s holiday return policy is kind of flaky. I could have returned the Wii up until Dec. 9, then there is a “blackout” until December 26th, when I will have another 15 day return period.

    Clunky policy.

  7. batman381 says:

    Was a victim today have the return policy war. We start buying for Christmas back in July and one of the gifts didn’t have a laptop cooling fan in it so I wanted to take it back to Best Buy and get one that did. Needless to say even with the original receipt Best Buy would not take it back and wouldn’t even offer store credit when asked. Needless, to say Best Buy lost out because I would have probably looked for something else with a cooling fan installed that would have cost more than what I was returning.