10 Stores With the Best Return Policies

When in search of the best gifts, don't forget to plan for those that might not work out. Your recipients won't have to worry about signing away their firstborns to make a return at these stores.

Even the most thoughtful gift-giver can’t get it right all the time. In fact, from 10 to 15 percent of holiday sales are returned or exchanged, said Randy Allen, an associate dean for the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

To ensure your loved ones are able to exchange that too-small sweater or return their extra toaster, consider shopping at one of these 10 stores.

1. Nordstrom

Among department store return policies, Nordstrom is the gold standard. They have been known to take back any item at any time, receipt or no receipt. There’s no return counter: Approach any sales associate. If you need to return something by mail, they even provide postage-paid labels.

The only exception to the rule involves special occasion dresses. Unfortunately, too many people have bought dresses, worn them and returned them to the store. Now, Nordstrom has a slightly different policy regarding these items so don’t expect to go out for a night on the town and then recoup your money the next day (not that you would do that, right?). The store also reserves the right to refuse other returns on a case-by-case basis as well.

As a final note, don’t make the mistake of confusing Nordstrom with sister discount chain Nordstrom Rack. The return policy at Nordstrom Rack isn’t too bad – you have 90 days to return unused merchandise so long as you have the receipt, original tags and a photo ID – but it is nowhere near as generous as the Nordstrom policy.

2. L.L. Bean

Another store offering a no-holds-barred return policy is L.L. Bean. The company says its products are “Guaranteed to Last” and will take back items at any time for any reason.

However, be aware you will pay a $6.50 return shipping fee unless you are an L.L. Bean Visa cardholder. Or, if you live near one of the retailer’s outlet or store locations, you could always make your return or exchange there.

3. Macy’s

Macy’s is another department store that places few limits on returns and exchanges. It promises easy returns, and the gift return policy posted online says you can return merchandise at any time to the store.

The only catch is you can’t return a gift for cash. If you have a gift receipt, you get the full purchase price credited back to you in the form of a Macy’s gift card. If you don’t have a receipt, you still get a credit but it will be for the lowest selling price of the last 180 days.

4. Costco

Selling everything from caskets to cucumbers, Costco says it stands behind its products 100 percent. You can get a full refund on anything. The only caveat is that these items must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a full refund: Televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, touchscreen tablets, iPod / MP3 players and cellular phones.

For online purchases, the company provides UPS postage-paid labels. Customers can also return items directly to their local Costco warehouse and receive a refund that includes shipping and handling.

5. Zappos

You don’t need to worry about buying the wrong shoes online if you make your purchase from Zappos. The shoe retailer gives you 365 days to return unused products and will pay for the return shipping. That means if those strappy heels don’t look quite as cute on you as they do on the model, you can send them right back, just don’t wear them to the party first.

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