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Retailers’ Return Policies: The 2007 Fine Print

Over the last few years, retailers have been busy tightening their return policies to reduce the incidence of both fraudulent returns and those made by consumers taking advantage of the store. Here are the links to major retailers’ policies, and all their fine print.


Holiday Return Deadlines and Restocking Fees

Amazon.com Jan. 31 (most items shipped 11/01 through 12/31). 15% restocking fee on open computers. Additional rules may apply.
Best Buy January 31 for purchases November 1 or later; 15% restocking fees on certain opened items.
Circuit City January 25 most items; Jan. 8 for 14 day items including computers; some 15% restocking fees.
Costco No deadline (but 90 days for TVs, computers, cameras, port. music players, cell, projectors)
Kohl’s No deadline (with receipt)
Macys.com 180 days from purchase; 25% restocking fee on furniture.
Marshalls January 5 (for purchases Oct. 28 – Dec. 5).
Office Depot By January 25 for furniture and technology purchased November 15 or later.
Overstock.com By January 10 for items purchased November 1 or later. Fees apply if opened or used.
Sears 90 days; 30 days home electronics, mattresses; 15% restocking fee in many categories.
Staples No deadline for office supplies. (January 6 for electronics & furniture bought since Nov. 23)
TJ Maxx January 5 (for purchases Oct. 28 – Dec. 5).
Target 90 days from purchase (15% restocking fee on portable electronics, digital cameras, camcorders; specially marked clearance items only qualify for current sale price).
Toys R Us 90 days (45 days for unopened electronics, video products, collectibles, more). For online orders, postmark by January 4th.
Wal-Mart 90 days (15 days [PCs, portable players], 30 days [cameras], or 45 days [PC accessories.])

Many happy returns.

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6 thoughts on “Retailers’ Return Policies: The 2007 Fine Print”

  1. The only major problem I see with all these return policies is Targets 15% restocking fee on certain electronics categories. It doesn’t specify whether that means opened items only, or ANYTHING in those categories.

    I worked for a national toy store chain as my first job 10 years ago, and seeing the junk that people would try to get away with doesn’t really surprise me that the return policies have been tightened over the years.

    Ultimately, as long as a person has a receipt, the item is still exactly like it left the store, and is within the time limit, there should be a refund every time. If THAT starts getting restricted, then I see a problem.

  2. The restocking fee is bogus, but I’ve found that most places used to waive it if you brought the product back unopened or in unused condition.
    I guess the idea is that you shouldn’t use the product, make it un-resellable, then get full money back, as mentioned by Matt.

  3. I hate all the red tape, I hate the 15 day-30 day-45 day restrictions for different products, but as a former Best Buy employee, I see the need. Like Matt said, you would be disgusted with the crap people will try to pull at these stores.

  4. Yes, the 15% restock fee is primary for the shady fool (rope smoker) who thinks that the 25 lb. barbell weight will match the weight of a 5 lb. ultra cheap DVD player. It isn’t an issue of the vendor / retailer, but those who have tried and have taken advantage of retailers.

    2 quickie stories.

    Dec 22nd 2000. the good guys, Walnut Creek, CA. suspect killed on the spot for writing a bogus (stolen) check. cops called, perp pulls gun, ’nuff said.

    Jan 4th 1998 the good guys, Fairfield, CA. guys tries to return 2000$ Denon surround amp. Full of weights routine, cop in line behind him, sees this, (he’s dropping off camcorder for cleaning) Arrests the guy on the spot. Thou shall not defraud!

    a long time ago I worked there………. when it was the place to 2 for consumer electronics retail

  5. OLD NAVY return policy – is you don’t have a receipt, they mail you the check. Seems like they are wasting more money in this process then just giving you a gift card.

  6. They charge you the 15% restocking fee and then sell the product at a 10% discount. Hmmm.
    85 + 10 = 105. interesting

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