Return Policies: The Best and Worst Retailers

Posted on 12/23/2010

According to US News and World Report, nearly $50 billion worth of products is returned to retailers during the holiday season. Some stores will take your item back without any issues, while others have become increasingly strict. Wondering who the best (and worst) retailers are for returns? We’ve got the answers.


Let’s start out with the bad news. Some retailers are all smiles when they’re selling you stuff, but if you’ve got to return it they’ll turn on you faster than Eva Longoria on Tony Parker. Here are some to watch out for:

Target: Back in the day Target had one of the best return policies on the big box block. But now it’s stricter than a super model’s diet. The reason why Target tops the “worst” list is because even if you have a receipt and you make your return within 90 days, you are only allowed to return $70 worth of products a year. After that you’ll get stuck with store credit. For slightly better service, always use plastic to make purchases at Target because then if you lose your receipt they may be able to look up your purchase by your credit card number.

Office Max: Lots of items purchased at Office Max must be returned within 14 days in order to receive a refund. And you’ve got to have the receipt. If you buy technology items you must return them in the original packaging within two weeks and even then you’re still probably going to get socked with a 15% restocking fee.

Best Buy: Best Buy makes the worst list because it’s confusing. Your time limit depends on which department your purchase comes from and there are lots of items that aren’t returnable at all—even if you just bought it five minutes ago. Plus you could face a 25% restocking fee if you return a special order item.


There are some companies with very generous return policies. They seem to understand that receipts get lost, tastes change and sometimes we grossly underestimate our jean size. Here are three retailers with the best return policies:

Staples: Staples makes the “best” list because of their Easy Returns policy that states “if you’re not 100% satisfied with your Staples purchase, return it for any reason.” If you don’t have a receipt you’ll likely get store credit and most items must be in their original packaging.

Walmart: If you’re notorious for losing your register receipt then Walmart may be your saving grace. You can return items to the store without a receipt and if your item is worth less than $25 you can get cash. For returns over $25 they’ll give you store credit. You’re allowed to make three returns without a receipt within 45 days.

Macy’s: Macy’s return policy is great because you have an entire year to take your item back if you have your receipt. There are a few exceptions—rings, bridesmaid dresses, and furniture for example—but most items can be returned quite easily.

By Alison Storm

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Posted on 12.23.10 at 4:57 PM

i think target has one of the best. i order multiples (using cc) online and i've returned over $100 (using my original receipt)+ multiple times....they never give me a fuss, but sometimes the line for returns is long (go on mon-tues morning)

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