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Dec 252013
 December 25, 2013  Posted by  Features, Hot Deals, Shopping
return exchange

So the purple and chartreuse shirt you bought for your honey didn’t work out, Junior wasn’t crazy about that hot new toy you gave him and even your mother wasn’t thrilled with the sweater you just knew she would love. Back to the trenches! With the crush of people showing up at the customer service counter on December 26, you can only hope for “happy returns.”

Return policies are not necessarily static. Several companies have made changes in their return policy this year. Don’t assume what they accepted last year will work this year.

Always check the return policy before you purchase a gift with an eagle eye on the fine print. Exclusions, restocking fees and other restrictions can make for “no return” at all. Ditto for the 14-day return window when you show up on the 15th day.

A receipt is the holy grail of the retail business so always, always, always hold onto yours. Same with “original packaging” if there is any. They are the ticket to those “happy returns.” Gift receipts are helpful but, remember, in most cases the item you — or the recipient — is returning will likely be exchanged for a gift card for that store.

Here are highlights of some major chains’ return policies:

Barnes and Noble: You must act fast for a return here — B & N will only will do a refund to your original form of payment for 14 days. If you have a gift receipt, the refund will be in the form of a gift card. Items must be returned in their original condition; shrink-wrapped products must be unopened. If you have a gift receipt, you have 60 days to return an item. However, store credit is the only option for a return with a gift receipt. Barnes& is extending its return policy for items bought online between November 11 and December 31, 2013. Returns will be accepted through January 31, 2014. The company’s standard 30-day return policy applies to Marketplace items but they must be returned to the seller. See the B & N’s website for details on NOOK return and information on items that cannot be returned.

Bed, Bath and Beyond: The store accepts returned items for exchange, refund or a credit at any of the company’s stores nationwide. A company representative said the store’s return policy is “open-ended.” Items may be returned at any time for any reason, she said. If you don’t have a receipt, you will get store credit. You can send the item to the returns processing center. Bed, Bath and Beyond will send you a pre-paid shipping label. Read the guidelines and follow the instructions on the website. If you don’t have an invoice or pre-paid shipping label, call 800-GOBEYOND (800-462-3966) for help.

Without the original packing invoice and your credit card, you may exchange the item or get a merchandise credit. Items bought with a gift card will be refunded as a merchandise credit. If you send your item to the returns processing center, you will get a merchandise credit that can be used in any Bed, Bath and Beyond store. Non-gift returns of merchandise paid via gift cards will be refunded to the original gift card.

Best Buy: Best Buy usually limits returns to 15 days for eligible products (30 days for eligible products for My Best Buy Elite members and 45 days for eligible products for My Best Buy Elite Plus members) but the company is extending its return period for the holidays. Items purchased between November 4 and December 31, 2013, may be returned through January 15, 2014. Some items are not returnable.  The company requires the original receipt and gift receipt or packing slip for all returns or exchanges. You must also show a valid photo ID if you’re doing an in-store return.

Your refund in most cases will be in the same form of payment as your purchase. See the company’s website for a list of items that cannot be returned. Usually purchases can be returned to a store or by mail. For proof of delivery, Best Buy recommends you return items via UPS or, if you use the U. S. Post Office, that you insure the package.

Kohl’s: Kohl’s offers a “No Questions Asked – Hassle Free” return policy for all purchases. There are no time restrictions on returns, and sales associates can locate Kohl’s Charge purchases up to 12 months after the purchase date, to credit your account. Non-Kohl’s charge purchases or purchases made beyond 12 months qualify for a Kohl’s merchandise credit or a corporate-issued refund check. You can return items bought on by mail or you can bring them into any Kohl’s store for return or exchange.

JC Penney: JC Penney does not state a time limit on returns, but a representative said returns are at the store’s discretion. And the store can decide if you get a refund which would be in the original form or payment or store credit, she said. If you’re returning the item with a gift receipt, you will get a JCP gift card. Without a receipt, you can exchange the item or get a refund at the item’s lowest selling price within the last 45 days in the form of a gift card.  Not all items are eligible for a refund. Some items, like fine jewelry and small electrics and electronics must be returned within 60 days. Valid photo ID is required for  items exchanged or returned without a receipt.

If you purchased the item online, complete the “returns or exchange” form on the invoice and return it with the item. If you don’t have the invoice, send your name, address, phone number and approximate date of purchase to the nearest facility. Items purchased online can be returned to a store or a pick-up and return center or by mail. Details are on the company website.

K-Mart: In general, K-Mart accepts most items for return for 90 days after date of purchase with an original/email confirmation. Refunds will be issued in the original method of payment online and in the store with the exception of purchases made in the store by check. They will be refunded with cash. Returns without a receipt and/or email confirmation will not be accepted. Some items may be exchanged for an identical item or a substantially similar item of equal value only, and some items must be returned within seven or 30 days. See the company’s website for details.

Macy’s: Items purchased at a Macy’s store must be returned to a store and can be done at any time after purchase If you have a receipt, you can receive a full refund in the original form of payment.  If you don’t have a receipt but charged the item to a Macy’s card within the last two years, the sales associate can locate the item. If you don’t have a receipt and did not use a Macy’s card, the sales associate might still be able to locate a proof of purchase and make a refund to the original account or give you a store credit. Without proof of purchase, you will receive a store credit for the item’s lowest selling price within the last 180 days.

Most items purchased at can be returned by mail or to a Macy’s store with original proof of purchase. There are some restrictions. Without a proof of purchase, Macy’s give you a store credit for the item’s lowest selling price within the last 180 days. To return items purchased at, use the prepaid return shipping label and include the return form and invoice/packing slip (if you don’t have any of those, you can get them online.) “Preference returns,” items returned for reasons other than receipt of damaged/defective or incorrect merchandise, incur a return shipping and handling fee of $6.95 if you use the prepaid return shipping label. Refunds will be credited to you in the original tender.

For gift returns or orders with different shipping and billing information, or if you paid with a gift card, the refund will be issued in the form of an Easy Exchange Card, which you can use for a future online or in-store purchase. cannot accept items by mail that were purchased in a Macy’s store.

Sears: The return period for Sears purchases varies depending on the item–from 90 days for things like clothing to 60 days for major appliances and fitness and outdoor merchandise to 30 days for items such as computers, jewelry and office supplies. Sears has extended the window for returning certain items. Items purchased between November 17, 2013 and December 24, 2013 with a standard 30-day return period, can be returned through January 24, 2014.

Items purchased between November 17, 2013 and December 24, 2013 with a standard 60-day return period can be returned up to 60 days from the date of purchase or by January 24, 2014, whichever is longest. Some items cannot be returned, and returning certain items will incur a restocking fee. purchases can be returned by mail or to any full-line Sears store. See the website for details.

Target: Target prints a “return by” date on its receipts and says it promises to “attempt a return” on every item it sells. The return by date is usually 90 days from date of purchase although some items must be returned within 30 days. If you use Target’s REDcard debit or credit card, you get an extra 30 days to return nearly all items. For returns, Target pays the return shipping fees but original shipping and handling fees will be deducted from your refund unless the return is because of Target’s error. Go to the online return center to print a prepaid return label. Return options and methods will be be shown. You can also return the item to a Target store. Bring the packing slip and the credit card you used to purchase the item.

Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart accepts returns on most items for 90 days from the date of purchase. It has extended the return period for the holidays. If you bought an item between November 1, 2013 and December 24, 2013 that has a normal return policy of 15 or 30 days, you can start counting those days on December 26, 2013. Check out details of the holiday return policy on the website. Computers, camcorders and digital cameras, digital music players, e-tablets and e-readers, portable video players, GPS units, video game hardware and pre-paid cell phones and post-paid cell phones can be returned for 15 days from the date of purchase. You can check the returns policy by department.

Wal-Mart does accept returns without a receipt. You have the option of a cash refund if the purchase was under $25, a shopping card for the amount of the purchase if it was over $25 or an even exchange. You can make up to three “no receipt” returns within a 45-day period. You can return or exchange items purchased at to a store or by mail for a refund or replacement. Follow the instructions on the website to get a pre-paid return label. You will receive a refund or replacement if the item is in stock.

Kathie Sutin

Kathie Sutin has covered everything from construction to transportation. Features, however, are her specialty especially those about travel, food, health, parenting and people. Her work has appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Midwest Traveler, Southern Traveler, St. Louis Parent, Hooked on the Outdoors, Missouri Life, St. Louis Magazine, Air Tran’s flight magazine and Sauce Magazine and websites including and At her last fulltime gig, public relations writer for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, she developed a vast knowledge of all things St. Louis as she spread the gospel about free and things to do in the Gateway City. That came in handy when she launched St. Louis On The Cheap as did her lifelong strategy of paying less whenever she can.

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