Amazon, Best Buy, United Airlines Make Consumer Reports’ Naughty List

While the bearded guy at the North Pole is making his list and checking it twice before he heads out to deliver toys and/or coal on Dec. 24/25, our pals at Consumer Reports have already decided who they think deserves a shiny black hunk of anthracite in their stockings.

CR has unveiled its latest Naughty and Nice list on its website, damning or praising a range of retailers and other consumer-facing businesses for their particular policies.

Since we’re not yet in the holiday spirit (and we rarely like to praise any company for simply having policies that are humane), we’re going to focus on those businesses making the Naughty cut in 2013.

In alphabetical order…
Amazon: The e-tail giant makes the list for its decision to increase the purchase requirement on free shipping to $35.

Best Buy: No, it’s not for those irritating Amy Poehler commercials. Instead, the women and men in blue get coaled for requiring photo ID for returning an item (a requirement the company has had for nearly three years) and its use of that info to track other returns (though technically the tracking is being done by a third-party company).

BJ’s Wholesale Club: Unlike fellow warehouse stores Costco and Sam’s Club, BJ’s won’t accept returns of perishable products like food and flowers. For that, it apparently earns a place on the Naughty list.

Fry’s Electronics: Most TVs are larger than 24″ these days, but if you buy one that size at Fry’s you can’t return it. So naughty.

Kmart: We think putting Kmart on the naughty list is like blaming a football player with broken leg for not scoring enough touchdowns, but CR has no problem kicking the beleaguered retailer when it’s down, putting the store you haven’t shopped at since 1987 on the list for its decision to open its doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving (presumably so people waiting for the Best Buy across the street to open will have a warm place to hang out for a few hours).

Lord & Taylor: I’ve never been in a Lord & Taylor because I’m not my mom, but the retailer is apparently naughty for advertising that people could “Save 25 percent at the ultimate one-day sale,” while using the fine print to exclude 70 brands and entire categories like jewelry, beauty products, cosmetics, women’s designer coats, fragrances, luggage and more.

But if you’re going to put L&T on the Naughty List for that, you should also toss in Sears, Guitar Center, Lane Bryant, Babies R Us, Macy’s, and countless others.

QVC: The home-shopping channel is deemed coal-worthy for its confusing array of 20 different categories for prices and deals:

For example, there’s the “QVC Price,” also known as the everyday great price, “Today’s Special Value,” a steep one-day markdown, the “Event Price,” another temporary deal, and “While Supplies Last Price,” identifying big savings on items in relatively short supply. Then there’s the “Last Clicks” category, featuring a limited quantity of leftovers priced to sell, which is not to be confused with “Clearance Price” products, whose prices have been reduced to make room for new inventory. That’s only six of the categories.

Raymour & Flanigan:
While many retailers offer sketchy deferred-interest, store-branded credit cards — which gives you a period of no-interest payments but which will retroactively slap you upside the head with all the interest on the original purchase if not paid off in full by the end of that period — the furniture chain heavily markets its deferred-interest card on its home page (but doesn’t make a huge deal about the 28% APR on that deferred interest).

Toys ‘R’ Us:
After earning some love for its plan to price-match online competitors, the toy chain has decided to suspend that policy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (on which we all dress like characters from the 1995 classic Hackers and then just sit at home and order stuff online).

United Airlines: The country’s largest airline (at least for the moment) could probably make the list for any number of its policies, but CR chose to call out United for not allowing families with youngsters to join in the pre-boarding fun.

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