Best Of Return Policies, Worst Of Return Polices

To aid you in your post-Christmas return-a-thon, WalletPop has put together a capsule list of the best and worst return policies.

This is all subjective, but the post works as a quick, informative way to let you know whether or not it’s worth braving the lines to take something back. In the post, Laura Heller says that Bed Bath & Beyond and Costco have among the most lenient holiday return polices:

Bed Bath & Beyond
The home goods retailer has a generous return policy year round, with no time limit for either in-store or online returns as long as you have a receipt. The one painful part: There’s often a long wait for service.

The warehouse club takes everything back as long as you have a receipt. Electronics are the one exception, but even the policy for those items is among the most generous in the retail industry: Shoppers have a 90-day window to return electronics and there is no restocking fee.

Heller says Best Buy, Amazon and Home Depot have some of the least forgiving policies. What are your thoughts on who has the kindest and harshest policies?

The best and worst return policies of the holiday season [WalletPop]
(Thanks, Chris!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Kabukistar says:

    I once returned a half-eaten bag of Redvines to Target for a full refund, cash.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Why in the world did you do that?

    • Wombatish says:

      Kroger takes back -anything-.

      A woman once returned a hog’s head she had already cooked and eaten (well, stewed) and got a full refund.

      They also took back a ten pack of steaks that a guy had cooked (all 10) and eaten (5), because they were ‘tough’ (‘toughness is generally a result of improper cooking, not inherent in the meat :P).

      People have taken in wrappers and gotten refunds, because they weren’t ‘satisfied’ (even though they ate it).

      And that’s just the local store where several friends work.

      They pretty much have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and actually mean it.

      • Syncop8d1 says:

        I’ve returned a Zataran’s gumbo mix to Kroger for an exchange because the one I bought was opened on the inside and the contents spilled out even though the box itself was intact. At HEB (another grocery chain in Texas), I returned a bag of chips that had become rancid somehow. They were just not fresh, they were inedible! I had just bought them a week prior. Other than that, I cannot recall any other grocery returns. Another thing, at my Kroger you have to watch for expiration dates on some of the less popular condiments. Just a “buyer beware.”

    • kateblack says:

      I once returned a half-eaten bag of beef jerky to Target, and they gave me a store credit.

      Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that it was a mouse or rat that did the eating.

  2. The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

    Even though there is a short window for returns on electronics, Costco Concierge service extends the warranties on electronics to 2 years. I’ve dealt with Costco Concierge before and now I buy all of my electronics at Costco.

    • lilyHaze says:

      Can you detail more? I think the 90 day return policy on TVs, computers, and mp3 players is very generous. What sort of problem did you encounter and how they did fix it (repair, replacement)? I’m curious because I’d like to buy a TV next year.

      • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

        Costco’s concierge service rocks. Last year my Costco-purchased plasma TV died as a result of a nearby lightning strike.

        When ten minutes on the phone with a tech support guy and his troubleshooting scripts failed to fix the problem, he escalated it to an onsite repair. The repair guy showed up the next day, took fifteen minutes to diagnose it (five minutes of which was dismounting it from the wall), ordered the part, told us he would be back when the part came in (4-6 business days). The part actually came in the next day, and he was back the day after that to install it and re-mount it back on the wall.

        Total time, three days from the minute I called, easy to use, convenient, professional, and free.

  3. MikeF74 says:

    Which is is for Best Buy? Most Lenient or least forgiving?

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      I’m going to assume that the first mention of “Best Buy” was supposed to be “Bed Bath and Beyond.” I’m also going to assume that Phil needs a lot more coffee this morning. ‘Cause I’m during that way.

  4. ckaught78 says:

    Only certain electronics are subject to the 90-day return policy at Costco; primarily computers and tvs. GPS’s for instance can be returned at anytime, unless they changed that in the last month. Last month I returned a Garmin GPS that I purchased 2.5 years ago because it just stopped working. They took it back no questions asked and I purchased a newer, even better GPS for half the cost.

    It is for this reason that I keep all boxes and manuals for these types of items.

  5. bkdlays says:

    “Laura Heller says that Best Buy and Costco have among the most lenient holiday return polices:” ….

    “Heller says Best Buy, Amazon and Home Depot have some of the least forgiving policies.”

    I think they meant Beth Bath Beyond in the first sentence

  6. justsomeguy says:

    I am awful at keeping receipts, so trying to return things is usually a nightmare. I had a duplicate copy of a season of a TV show that I wanted to return and put the balance towards buying a Wii for my family for Christmas. I knew that I had gotten the set from Sam Goody, but they wouldn’t even talk to me about a return without a receipt. Best Buy allowed me to return it for store credit, even without a receipt. Because they did, they got another $160 sale.

  7. Anonymously says:

    Garden Ridge
    • Returns only if unused, with original receipt and packaging, and within 60 days of purchase
    • Returns of Christmas merchandise after Dec. 25 refunded at current selling price
    • No returns on mattresses, adjustable or sleeper sofas, futons, pre-cut fabric and items ticketed “all sales final”
    • No price adjustments

    What do you rate this return policy?

    • [MG]LooseCannon says:

      I’d rate that “reasonable” based on what I’d expect to be buying at Garden Ridge.

      Not lenient, not unreasonably restrictive, but pretty middle of the road.

    • annexw says:

      Good, as the 60 day is better then the (around here) normal 30 days. Everything else is reasonable.

  8. mcmunchkin says:

    Don’t forget REI. They will take back used equipment because they have used gear sales later.

  9. microcars says:

    How does Home Depot end up on the “least forgiving policies” end?
    Home Depot allows returns WITHOUT A RECEIPT! for up to at least 60 days if not longer.
    You get a HD gift card if you don’t have a receipt.
    I am not a big fan of HD but every once in awhile I just gather up all the crap I have purchased at HD that I never got around to using and just take it back without a receipt. Then I buy more crap. Cost to me: nothing but my time. I see people buying A/C units to use all summer and then they return them! HD says nothing.

    oh, right they don’t accept returns on “custom” orders. So if you order custom cabinets and then change you mind and try to stick it to them, they won’t take them back.
    boo hoo.
    And they won’t take lumber back online either. surprise!
    Who orders online from Home Depot?

    Apple won’t accept returns on “custom” orders either!
    That is why they offer “free” engraving on iPods. (!)
    I don’t see Apple on the list.

    /disclaimer: long time mac user

    • chrisexv6 says:

      Next time you are at Home Depot, stop by the returns register and read the big card that has their return policy on it.

      Last bullet on the list basically states the manager can completely override all or any part of the return policy thats listed.

      So, you might be right….Home Depot themselves have a decent policy, but the mangers that Home Depot employs probably do not. One store near me refused to take back any clearance item……which, by looking at the receipt, they would have no way of knowing was on clearance when I bought it. I was within my 90 days as stated on the receipt, etc. They just refused to even look.

      Another store a little farther away gladly took back the item. Unfortunately HD is a necessary evil, but I refuse to do business at the store that refused the return. I go out of my way to go to the store that helped me.

  10. jaydez860 says:

    Lowes has a really good return policy. You have 90 days to return it and if you paid with a Debit or CC they can look up the recepit by swiping youre card. They will even take the sime to swipe multiple cards if you cant remember the one you used.

  11. jp says:

    I returned a broken kitchen item after 3 years of use to Williams and Sonoma without a receipt and they replaced no questions asked. This next one I still feel a little guilty over. I had several Oxford business shirts I purchased online at Lands End. Wore them for over 5 years! Gained weight. Sent them all back (had them laundered first) explaining I “ordered” the wrong size. They sent me a letter back asking if I wanted cash back (at the current price of a similar shirt which was more than I originally paid) or store credit because those particular shirts were discontinued. I took the credit and ordered bigger shirts. You know, retailers like this are not stupid. Because they did this for me I’m a customer for life now and luckily for them have maintained the same weight.

  12. Starfury says:

    My wife had some Christmas gifts that she decided not to give out so I was taking them back to Target.

    I had all the receipts an was done with the return counter in under 5 minutes. It’s not hard to return stuff if you’re prepared and not bringing something back with no receipt and an open/damaged package.

  13. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I think it was unfair that Home Depot is on the list of least forgiving. It sounds like their online return policy is mediocre (can’t return in store, and customer still pays shipping), but I know their in store policy is great. And not being able to return a custom order doesn’t sound evil, just typical (it was custom made, they can’t exactly sell it to someone else)

  14. Fujikopez says:

    I used to work at BB&B. I’m about to take back a four-year-old cookware set because I’m unsatisfied with it (it hasn’t held up like it was supposed to). I know they’ll take it back and let me exchange it for a different set because I’ve processed such returns for customers without the management blinking an eye. That’s why I buy all my major homegoods there.

    • Bix says:

      Plus, their prices are pretty competitive if you use the ubiquitous 20% off coupons (At least at the store closest to me, they don’t care about the expiration dates).

      • Fujikopez says:

        This is true. When I was employed with them (May ’04-July ’06), we were told to ignore all of the exclusions in the fine print of the coupon (except gift cards), and the expiration date as well. I’ve been shopping there since then, and for a period they were accepting expired coupons but stating they were going to be more picky about it, but then they stopped saying that when I was using grossly expired coupons. So who knows.

  15. lastingsmilledge says:

    i actually think that, for the most part, amazon’s return policy is very fair. the one section of the fine print that is borderline criminal and should be the subject of a future post is that when you pay with amazon credit (which you get for trading in video games, buying certain promo items, etc) and return an item, you don’t get your credit back.

  16. jp says:

    My brother works for Ralphs grocery store (aka Kroger) in Calif and said you can return anything (used or unused, even just one bite left of that hunk of cheese) with a receipt or without a receipt and get cash back or replacement. 2 catches though. Must be brought into the store inside a (Ralphs) grocery bag and it has to be in the system (barcode wise). Said there are problems with this. People go to other grocery stores, shoplift or buy several items on sale (ex: seven packs of batteries that are $4 off on sale at Von’s aka Safeway) and bring to his store where they are full price. He has to refund the full amount and the person pockets the difference or the full amount if they shoplifted it which he said they always do. I didn’t realize when he told me this that the barcodes are the same for all ‘national brand’ items at all grocery stores (obviously, except for store brand products). I thought they have a way to differentiate but they don’t.

  17. usmcmoran says:

    Best buy is pretty forgiving, on Christmas day i opened up one of my gifts, it was a braun electric razor which was in a clear taped, distressed box, This came from my parents who usually make open box purchases but are usually not so tacky to mail one to someone for christmas. They live in New York and i’m in California.I opened the razor head and there were HAIRS in the blades. I called my step father and he apologized and said he got it at best buy last summer. It had a best buy sticker with sku on it so i took it to my local best buy. The clerk gave me the last price they sold for at best buy ( they stopped carrying these in october) and sent it back as defective. My stepdad paid $80 and they gave me $144 for it. No receipt no questions asked. I do feel like a bad consumer btw, but IMO they were exceptionally lenient.

  18. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    my sister got me a couple of bed bath and beyond exclusive silicone whisks for christmas and said that she has the same ones. and when one of them broke after a couple of years of use she took it back to the store and they just handed her a new one on the spot.
    since it’s an exclusive item, they know you bought those there though, which may make their return policy on those even more lenient.
    she said they told her that if the bread pans she got me ever warp or the finish peels off to just take them back, no receipt needed for store credit or exchange, no time limit.
    here’s hoping i never need it, but it’s nice to know

  19. ahleeeshah says:

    I pretty much love Kohl’s for their return policy. I wanted to buy my boyfriend shoes for Christmas, but I was buying in October (had a magical 3-paycheck month). Kohl’s was the only place I found that accepted returns without a return window. You have to have a receipt, but if you do, you can return them whenever you want for the full price. It’s pretty awesome.

  20. brandmuffin says:

    Nordstroms has hands down the best return policy on the planet. No receipt? Would you like cash or credit back? My cheap neighbor bought her wedding junk at Nordstroms spending close to 10K then returned it all after the wedding, and I have heard a rumor but don’t know if its true they once took back a set of 4 tires. I know they dont sell tires, but that’s how the story went.

    Ross 30 days with receipt cash back no receipt or past 30 days store credit
    TJ Maxx – Same
    Big Lots- No returns/exchanges without a receipt only 30 days after purchase
    Nordstrom Rack- Sucks what a disgrace to their mother store

  21. Ragman says:

    BB did the decent thing for me with a defective DVD out of a box set. They let me exchange just the defective disc and did not force me to swap the whole box set.

    Walmart still takes returns without receipts for store credit.

  22. DrRonster says:

    You are definately wrong about’s return policy. If you ordered it and dont like it you have to pay return shipping only. I ordered 3 air filters in November with Amazon Prime. Before purchasing Amazon checked to see if the filters were correct for the vehicle that I listed. 2 were sent to me in Michigan and 1 was sent to Florida since my parents live there and have the same vehicle. When I went to change the filter, I found that it was 2″ shorter. I contacted Amazon and indicated that it was different than website claimed. Immediately I was given an RMA and a return UPS label. Last Thursday I arrived at my parents and unlike what I had told them which was just throw it out, it was sitting in the room I use when visiting. Went online to request RMA. 1 hour later I dropped it off at UPS as per the RMA. Never had a problem with Same goes with, Didnt like something from, returned to B&M, no problem. Maybe its the way you try to return something. Home Depot, as long as you have the reciept. Best I ever dealt with is Kohl’s. Just follow the rules and explain the reason properly for the return.

  23. Dondegroovily says:

    I wish I remembered which one, but there is a maternity store where the only way to get a cash refund is a receipt and a note from a doctor stating that you miscarried.

  24. JonBoy470 says:

    A few Christmases ago my wife bought me a “Averatec” GPS at Price was good, and the product was well reviewed. Well, suffice it to say that while my wife certainly meant well, the thing was junk. I toughed out the random software freezes, glitchy maps and chintzy windshield mount for six months until one day the thing just quit turning on altogether.

    I brought it to the local brick & mortar Sam’s Club, sans invoice. They looked up the purchase in their computers, and asked why we were returning it. A guy from the electronics department inspected it, found it truly was dead, and they credited my wife’s credit card on the spot. Turned around and ordered a Garmin from Sam’s Club, which I’ve been using for at least three years now.

  25. Rathina says:

    I’ve returned tons of things to Home Depot with out receipts. They really don’t care at all, as long as it scans, and as long as you don’t mind it being refunded to a gift card. I wish more stores were like this.

  26. cupcake_ninja says:

    You don’t even really “need” a receipt for Costco. They can look up your purchase based on your member #. If you choose to do it that way though, be prepared to stand around for a while while they sift through your purchases, depending on how long ago you purchased it.

  27. halo969 says:

    Famous Footwear isn’t bad either. I bought a pair of gym shoes I tried once I got home and decided I didn’t like them. By the time I got around to wanting to return them I couldn’t find my receipt and I knew it had been over a month. They took them back and gave me a gift card for the price they were currently being sold for which I know was more than I originally paid. The great thing is the card never expires, so as long as they don’t go out of business, I can take my time finding a decent replacement pair.

  28. OrganizedFellow says:

    “Shoppers have a 90-day window to return electronics and there is no restocking fee.”

    That is incorrect.
    We provide a 90-day window to return the following electronics: computers, televisions, cell phones and digital cameras.
    Any and all other items (including other electronics, food, clothing, bedding, etc.) can be returned with or without a receipt.
    Even if you return an item, let’s say it was a gift, and you do not have the receipt, then a Costco Cash Card will be issued.


    Gawd I love workin’ there!

  29. Nikokitty says:

    Home Depot is listed as a worse place for returns? Wow. Considering HD will take *anything* back.. Raise enough of a stink, and they will take anything back (even hazmat issues, considering most consumers don’t understand what they are) as long as they carry the item..

  30. dryfire says:

    Kroger has been great with returns. Any time I or a family member have taken something back they accepted it no questions asked; even partially consumed items.

    Costco is also great on returns.

  31. SphinxRB says:

    BROOKSTONE: Front of receipt says Returns within 60 Days. Back of receipt says 30 Days for money back. 30-60 days you get store credit! I had to go through the secretary of the CEO to return it to them via the mail instead of the store to get a check mailed back. That was very deceiving, I know it said details on back, but I just assumed it said the usual lingo(orig box, in good condition etc.) After that ordeal, I will think many times before I make a purchase there again, and see if I can get it elsewhere first.

  32. whytcolr says:

    I am really partial to Land’s End’s return policy. Billed as “Guaranteed. Period.” It really is that easy. Call them up if you become dissatisfied with any purchase – ever. According to their page on the matter, they even accepted the return of a 21 year old taxi-cab. I can vouch for the ease of the process too, as I returned a pair of pants that I’d worn several times a week for the better part of four years. The zipper had failed (no jokes please), and the particular “model” of pants had been discontinued, but the customer service rep looked up some possible replacements for me to consider. I picked one, shipped my pants back to them, and had new pants very soon after.

    Also, everything I’ve ever gotten from Land’s End has been excellent quality. Maybe that’s how they can offer such a good return policy…

  33. David says:

    The Shop Rite grocery store chain in NJ has a good return policy….however, people return expired products and they end up back on the shelves for us other consumers to buy. We now have to check all expiration dates so we don’t get Coke that is way too old to drink. Yes there are some cheap people out there who go to all of that trouble to get back the $.79 or so. The store shouldn’t be allowed to put any food items back on the shelf for consumer safety reasons.

  34. Radoman says:

    Fry’s Electronics is one of the worst places in the world to try and return something. Even for a simple exchange if you don’t have a receipt. I have actually seen them threaten to call law enforcement on a lady who was trying to exchange a defective printer. This was a brand new model, in the box, and they had several hundred in stock. Crazy.

    She asked to speak to a manager, and they sent out some kid who yelled at her to leave or face freakin trespassing charges.

    Also, the extended warranty that Fry’s offers is completely worthless. I saw one of their “techs” put a scratch in this laptop a lady was trying to get extended warranty service on. It looked accidental as it happened, but not 2 minutes later the tech used the scratch he himself made as an excuse to not even try to fix the laptop. They called it “accidental damage”, and again, threatened this other lady with arrest in order to get her to leave. She was not happy.

    Best Buy repair services aren’t much better, but at least they’ll try to help you. Or, if you get a Best Buy product replacement plan, you just send the broken item to a shipping center who issues you a gift certificate.

  35. Bush2012 says:

    I don’t see how Best Buy’s is terrible. 14 days for computers/gps, 30 for everything else. No restocking fees. Don’t even need a box, just the receipt and the accessories. Best Buy Mobile is lenient on phone returns compared to everything else; no restocking fee and no usage limit. Some places you can’t return a phone if it has over 10 minutes of talk time on it, and they have restocking fees.