The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be leaving few things unchanged. Some retail stores, whether brick-and-mortar or online (or both), are loosening their policies on returns, says ModernRetail, an industry publication. This buys customer goodwill and gives the companies time to process returned products. Other retailers may have tightened previously liberal returns policies.
To help ensure that you and the recipients of your gifts can exchange a too-small sweater or return an extra toaster, consider shopping at stores like these, whose return policies are more customer-centered. We’ve summed up the rules. We link to each store’s policy so you can read the fine print, including exceptions and caveats.
Selling everything from cucumbers to caskets, Costco says it stands behind its products 100%. That means full refunds on almost anything. A caveat: Some products — mainly electronics and appliances — must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a full refund.
Exceptions include diamonds, which are subject to special terms, and cigarettes and alcohol, which may not be returned where prohibited by law.
Love shopping at Costco? See “18 Surprising Things You Can Buy at Costco.”
2. Lands’ End
The Lands’ End return policy is short and sweet. If you aren’t happy with a product, return it at any time for a refund or exchange.
The policy says:
“Refund requests received within 90 days of purchase will be issued to the original form of payment when available. Refund requests received beyond 90 days from the date of purchase or refund requests without a Lands’ End proof of purchase will be issued a Lands’ End Merchandise Credit.”
Thanks to its “No-Nonsense — 365 Days to Change Your Mind” policy, Ikea is one of the best stores for customer returns.
As the policy name suggests, shoppers get one year (365 days) to make a return for a full refund — for new and unopened products.
But you must have a receipt. If you don’t, the store will attempt to locate your purchase in its system. Failing that, you’ll get merchandise credit equal to the lowest selling price of the purchase from the previous 365 days.
Opened products may be returned within 180 days. You’ll need proof of purchase for a full refund.
If you love shopping at Ikea, here some tips: “4 Ways to Save More Money at Ikea.”
4. Bath & Body Works
If you’re looking for a sweetly scented gift, Bath & Body Works can be a good place to go.
In case the fragrance you selected from the vast selection isn’t just what they wanted, the store has a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Return a product for any reason with a receipt for a full refund. No receipt? Your refund will be for the lowest selling price of the item.
REI is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. The store has a liberal return policy. In brief, you can return or exchange almost anything from the store within one year.
Outdoor electronics must be returned within 90 days. Tip: REI won’t take returns on items for normal wear and tear or damage caused by accidents or improper use. Used gear is covered by the policy, but must be returned within 30 days. REI Store Garage Sale (as is) purchases aren’t covered — those sales are final.
You don’t need to worry about buying the wrong shoes online when you purchase from Zappos. The shoe retailer allows 365 days to return unused products and will pay for the return shipping.
So, if those strappy heels don’t look quite as cute on you as they did on the model, you can send them right back. Just don’t wear them to a party first; returns must be unworn and in the original packaging with original tags attached.
A division of Gap, Athleta specializes in workout gear for women. Other stores (including other Gap brands) may only take back unwashed or unworn items, but Athleta lets you return anything for any reason within 60 days, thanks to its Give-It-a-Workout Guarantee. An exception: final sale goods.
Athleta covers the shipping cost for returns and exchanges.
The days when Nordstrom let shoppers return anything in practically any condition for any reason are in the past. But the chain’s return policy remains one of the best around.
“We handle returns on a case-by-case basis with the ultimate objective of making our customers happy.”
You can return a purchase without a receipt, and the retailer will try to find it in its computer system. If it can’t, customers may show identification to receive a Nordstrom gift card for the current price.
9. L.L. Bean
The L.L. Bean policy says it will accept returned products that don’t live up to customer expectations within one year of purchase. It’s even better for purchases made before Feb. 9, 2018. These are not subject to the one-year limit.
The retailer adds:
“After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.”
Macy’s once-mighty chain of department stores is in the midst of a three-year plan to close one-fifth of its stores — shutting roughly 125 locations in all.
But many of its stores still are in business. Macy’s return policy gives shoppers 90 days to take back a purchase. Returned goods must be in original, salable condition with the original tags.
Some exceptions are carved out. These include products from certain lines and manufacturers, lighting, area rugs, tech accessories and watches, dresses, furs, foods and beverages, and furniture and mattresses.
Hassle-free returns are a Kohl’s tradition, although the rules can be a bit more complicated than the name implies.
An in-store purchase with an original receipt can receive a refund or an even exchange up to 180 days after the original purchase date, with an exception for premium electronics. If you don’t have a receipt, and the store can’t find one, you may get a merchandise credit based on the lowest discounted 13-week sale price of the item.
Target’s return policy varies, depending on what you purchased, its condition and whether you paid with a Target REDcard.
Most goods that are returned within 90 days, are unopened and in new condition can receive a refund or exchange. Read the policy and check your sales receipt or packing slip for exceptions.
Target allows up to a year to return Target-owned brands or registry purchases.
Using your Target RedCard to make the purchase earns you an extra 30 days to make returns.
Returns by mail are postage-free; you can download and print a prepaid mailing label.
13. JC Penney
As with Target, JC Penney’s return policy varies significantly based on what you’ve purchased and whether you have a receipt. Here are the highlights:
- Most purchases can be returned with a receipt for a full refund or exchange. No time window is given. Read the policy to see exceptions.
- When you return something without a receipt, the refund with be issued as a JC Penney gift card; you’ll get the amount of the lowest selling price in the last 45 days and you’ll need to show a photo ID.
14. Bed Bath & Beyond
Bed Bath & Beyond promises “Easy Exchanges & Returns.” If you have a receipt, you’re in luck. Returns and exchanges can be made (postage-free) online or in stores that are open to the public (this doesn’t include curbside only locations).
You can take back unwanted goods, with exceptions, for a refund in the original form of payment, within 90 days with your receipt. You may be asked to show ID.
Without a receipt, things get a little trickier. If it was purchased within the last 365 days, Bed Bath & Beyond will try to find a record of the transaction. If they can’t, and you are returning new and unopened goods, you may be able to get an exchange or merchandise credit for the current selling price minus 20%.