Once all the holiday presents are unwrapped, another shopping season begins, and it’s no less trying for consumers and retailers alike.
The focus shifts to finding ways to turn unwanted gifts into cash, gift cards and wished-for items, according to personal finance expert Casey Bond from www.GoBankingRates.com.
And after surveying merchants, Bond came up with a list those who she thinks have the best (read: least painful) return policies.
"For consumers who went overboard, or simply received gifts they don’t feel they can use, understanding the intricacies of return policies makes all the difference in whether they start 2013 off on top or in debt," she said in a statement.
Here — in no particular order — are the retailers on Bond’s list:
Kohl’s • The policy is straightforward, she said. "Return any item, anytime, for any reason," says Kohl’s website. With no receipt, shoppers can still exchange merchandise for a refund, exchange or store credit. With a receipt, shoppers will get a full refund or exchange for up to a full year. After 12 months are up, items can still be exchanged or redeemed for store credit, making this one of the best return policies in retail.
Target • It promises "to attempt a return on every item purchased in our stores or on Target.com." If customers want to make a return or exchange without a receipt, they will use the debit or credit card charged to verify the purchase. Or, they may offer exchange or in-store credit with a valid ID.
Returns must be made within a 90-day window for most merchandise bought from Target. Electronics, including but not limited to computers, eReaders, cameras and video game consoles, must be returned within 30 days, although the 30-day refund period will begin on Dec. 26 for items purchased from Nov. 1 to Dec. 25, to allow time for gifts to be returned.
Costco • Because all purchases from the membership warehouse club are associated with the customer’s membership, no receipt is needed to return merchandise. Most items do not have a time limit on returns, as long as the item is in its original packaging and condition. Shoppers should note, however, that electronics have a limited return window of 90 days.
The other stores that Bond singled out for their policies were Macy’s (six months to make a return), Nordstrom (no time limit on returns), REI (bring it back anytime for any reason), L.L. Bean ("Guaranteed to Last" means bring back anything, anytime, no matter the condition), Trader Joe’s (if you try it and don’t like it, bring it back for a full refund), Whole Foods (bring it back even if its opened or used) and Zappos (365 days to send it back, and shipping is free).
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