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So You Think You Can Return Any Amazon Purchase to Kohl’s…

Amazon Returns at Kohl's

Kohl’s made a brilliant move last year by making a deal with Amazon to accept their returns at all Kohl’s stores.

According to the Kohl’s press release, the customer can simply visit a Kohl’s store and bring in an item without a box or label, and the department store will box it up and ship it back to Amazon for free.

MrConsumer decided to return a recently purchased and unopened box with a Quicken disc inside. The Amazon website indicated it qualified for “free returns” because it was “sold and shipped by Amazon.”

Quicken from Amazon

So, the day after Christmas, MrConsumer went to his nearby Kohl’s and got in the returns line. Once at the counter, he was told he had to go to the special Amazon returns desk at the back of the store. So he went back there and got in line again. I showed the clerk the Quicken package and my original sales receipt. He explained that I needed to show him a QR code — one of those new-fangled barcodes — and the only way to get that was for me to use my cellphone to process the return on the Amazon website, and choose Kohl’s as the dropoff location.

The Kohl’s website explains the process for making an Amazon return, which MrConsumer admittedly had not checked beforehand.



1. Begin your return with Amazon’s Online Return Center
2. Select the Kohl’s Dropoff option
3. Amazon will email you a QR code
4. Bring the item(s) you’re returning to a participating Kohl’s store and show the QR code on your smartphone to a Kohl’s associate in-store
5. Kohl’s will pack, label and ship your return for free

Amazon Returns are now accepted at all Kohl’s stores (excluding Anchorage, Alaska). Return eligible Amazon.com items to Kohl’s stores and save yourself time and money. What could be more convenient?

So, I found a quiet spot and began to process the return at Amazon.com, but when I got to picking the dropoff location, there was no “Kohl’s dropoff” option. And most of the other alternatives required me to pay $7.21 to ship the item back.

Amazon return options

I then went back to the Amazon return line, waited again, and finally got up to the counter. I showed the clerk my cellphone indicating there was no Kohl’s option for dropoff. He couldn’t quite explain the problem other than to say if the item came from a third-party seller, it did not qualify for return at Kohl’s. (It didn’t, it came from them directly — “sold and shipped by Amazon.”) He handed me a slip with a UPS location where I could pay to return the item to Amazon.

The product listing for Quicken explicitly said for this item there were no shipping charges to return it and I could pick the shipping method.


Amazon free returns

Grrr. I went home and got online to try to do the return on my desktop computer. There was indeed a free return option, but it was not at Kohl’s, not at a nearby Whole Foods, and not at the UPS desk at Staples right across the street. It was at an “Amazon Hub Locker Plus” — inconveniently located one or two towns away that I would have to drive to.

We asked both Kohl’s and Amazon why this item could not be returned to Kohl’s and why despite promising a free return shipping option there was none. Kohl’s didn’t respond to multiple requests. However, an Amazon spokesperson explained that most Amazon customers will have at least one free return option, but she would not otherwise respond directly to our questions on the record.

So Amazon returns to Kohl’s are not quite as simple and all-inclusive as the advertising suggests. MrConsumer wrongly assumed one could just walk in with the item and the original sales receipt — just like returning a Kohl’s item to Kohl’s.

We hope both companies will endeavor to be more clear and upfront about the limitations of free return options.

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14 thoughts on “So You Think You Can Return Any Amazon Purchase to Kohl’s…”

  1. I had a much better experience. I bought a comforter (try repacking that!). I called Amazon, was sent a QR code, which I printed. Took it to Kohl’s a few miles from my home. I was told to take it to the Amazon return counter. The lady there scanned the code and I not only was issued an electronic refund but given Kohl’s gift certificate for (I think $20, went to their bedding section and bought a comforter and got the $20.00 discount.

    This was several months ago so I don’t remember the exact details but all in all it was a terrific experience.

  2. One insightful point in the article may be lost on readers. The comment that “MrConsumer wrongly assumed…” is key. Having successfully returned several Amazon items to Kohl’s, I can attest that it works. It is a welcome convenience and cost savings. As a meticulous rule follower, I can say that my experience is good for one fundamental reason. I checked the returns eligibility in the Amazon app and got the Amazon Kohl’s return number before getting in the car and heading for Kohl’s. I didn’t assume things should work the way I thought they should, I read the instructions and followed steps to ensure it would work.

  3. Our experience with this has been hit or miss. On the most recent visit to Kohl’s to return an Amazon item, QR Code in hand, they scanned the code and gave us the can’t return, 3rd-party spiel. It was not a 3rd party as I was able to show from my phone, plus I’d selected that specific Kohl’s from the list of return options. They gave us the sorry, next customer please dismissal and we ended up having to pay for the free return at a UPS drop-off.

  4. One must always go through the return process on Amazon first and then follow the instructions. No, Kohl’s is not simply an Amazon location where you can just bring a return. Same is true with their own named locations. It all boils down to the reason for return. If the reason is due to Amazon’s fault, there are plenty of free return options. if it’s due to your own choice, the options are most limited with usually the only free option returning it as some distant locker. They are trying to discourage people from simply buying and returning, as the shipping both ways costs them money. Kohls, by the way, can’t even handle their own lines, and I try and avoid that store at all costs anyway. Much easier to print a label and bring it to Staples or the UPS store.

  5. My two points may be old news because I’d attempted this six months ago. On the Amazon returns page showing my item, I looked for a Kohl’s return option and there wasn’t any. So I went to my closest Kohl’s anyway to ask how I would have been able to return an Amazon item to that Kohl’s store. Well, get this: they said the Kohl’s store must be within eight miles of the Amazon shipping address. We live somewhat out in the sticks, and our closest Kohl’s store is definitely more than eight miles away. Has anyone else run into that?

    Also, when returning an Amazon item to a UPS store, I’ve never been charged. And the returns have never been Amazon’s fault or a problem with the item. We do have Prime; I don’t know if that has a bearing on it. Maybe Amazon has changed their free returns policy, or you need Prime to get free returns.

    So, Edgar, I’m just curious–when you were charged $7.21 to return your item, do you subscribe to Prime?

    Edgar replies: Dan… I am NOT a Prime member. And I was not charged anything because I schlepped to the Amazon Hub Locker + location two towns away.

  6. Procedure is rather confusing but nonetheless, 3 for 3 on free AMZ returns to Kohl’s. Just printed out return labels (with barcodes) and presented at return center. Although they say even the shipping carton isn’t necessary, still took them to make returns easier for Kohl’s.

  7. As indicated in previous comments, you do have to go online to return something. You must not have had to return anything before as this follows these same guidelines. It is not perfect though. I bought some jeans to try on and threw away the bags since I could return things to Kohls. I was in for a surprise when it was not given an option for Kohls. I could still do it free but I had to send them back through UPS and had to pack them. Even though it was one order, I received them in two separate packages and had to return them separately. Since I had already thrown the shipping bags away, I had to do some scrambling. I don’t know if it had to do with Black Friday and Kohl’s didn’t want extra traffic or what. In my next order, I could return things as usual.

  8. I returned two items to Kohl’s and it was a very easy process. I was totally pleased and was not charged anything. I also returned a book via UPS and that was even quicker (post Christmas).

  9. I have had only positive experiences with returning at Kohl’s, and I’m sure it’s more than eight miles away. I have a Smart Phone which is smarter than I, so I went online, told Amazon I needed to return something, went to Kohl’s early in the morning and found no problem. Kohl’s issued me a receipt for the item(s), and included a 25% Kohl’s discount on the receipt, good for a week. Two hours later, there was a refund on my Amazon account.

    I suspect that the Quicken Software caused the sticky problem here as software is a delicate item to return. Even if unopened, they’d like to inspect the package just in case you’re not completely honest about “I never opened it!” ha ha! While that and a few other categories may present a glitch, I am so impressed with the Amazon/Kohl’s partnership that it makes me feel very, very good about shopping either business.

  10. “It all boils down to the reason for return. If the reason is due to Amazon’s fault, there are plenty of free return options. if it’s due to your own choice, the options are most limited with usually the only free option returning it as some distant locker.”

    That’s not the case when an item is marked as free returns. Those items can be returned for any reason. If you get it and don’t like the color, it’s a free return. With a regular item, there would be a cost to return an item for not liking the color.

  11. I have Amazon Prime and I do always check to be sure my item is marked “free returns” or sold by Amazon or fulfilled by Amazon. Just yesterday I returned an item that I was disappointed in the quality. I went through the return process in my Amazon account online where in your past Order list next to the item there is a “return or replace item” button. Click that then answer the questions about why you are returning. A QR Code will be emailed to you almost immediately along with the statement that your return request has been accepted. Print the QR Code. I have not yet seen the Kohl’s option. I have the option of Whole Foods or the UPS Store. I always take it to my local UPS store and have never had a problem or been charged for return shipping. The UPS Store gives me a receipt evidencing drop-off and Usually there is no line to have to wait in.

    I received my electronic refund within a few hours; apparently when the UPS store processed shipping the return.

  12. I found the UPS Store option quite convenient. I didn’t have to box anything up. They just scanned the QR code, took the items, and gave me a receipt. I imagine the Kohls option would be a similar experience. Slightly OT…I recently returned Spectrum equipment to the UPS Store and it was just as easy. I didn’t even have to give account information.

  13. To those pointing out that MrConsumer erred initially in not properly processing the return – yeah, he knows that and mentions that. The larger point here is that once he did all that, he should have been able to return the item through Kohl’s, no? Why couldn’t he? That’s not clear, and I’d want answers on that too, ie why the nearest Kohl’s didn’t ocme up as an option.

  14. I recently went thru a fast, painless — and free — amazon return procedure at my local Kohl’s. No problemo.

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