The holiday season means amping up the amount of shopping you’d normally do, which can include everyone on your list or even a few purchases for yourself. However, whether you’re spending cash in stores or online, it’s hard not to factor in a retailer’s return policy. Do they have a short window period for returns? If you’re shopping online, do you have to pay for return shipping? All of this can be a determining factor in buying an item.
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers made $573 billion in store returns in 2017, with e-commerce returns nearing $100 billion. So shoppers are clearly more willing to return items they once loved or wanted enough to purchase. However, the study also found that a little more than 10 percent of returns were considered fraudulent, which equated to a $60 billion loss for retailers.
There’s no doubt some shoppers have been taking advantage of return policies, and many retailers have responded by making their return policies much stricter. For instance, earlier this year L.L.Bean, which was once notorious for accepting pretty much all returns, added new restrictions to their policies you'll want to be aware of next time your order. And plenty of other retailers have awful return policies that are downright infuriating to deal with.
For shoppers making legitimate purchases, it’s extremely important to patronize retailers that allow for easy and free returns. These 17 stores do just that.
1. Nordstrom has no time limit on returns or exchanges
Nordstrom’s return policy can seem a bit vague and returns are handled on a “case-by-case-basis.” But their policy clearly reads, “There are no time limits for returns or exchanges.”
Refunds are credited to the original form of payment, and if an item was a gift, the recipient will receive a Nordstrom gift card instead. For purchases that can’t be verified, a sales associate may ask for identification, and the price the item is currently selling for will be added to a gift card.
2. Lands’ End will take back your personalized items
It’s pretty customary that once an item has been personalized, there are no returns. But Lands’ End has what it calls Guaranteed.Period. This includes exchanges and refunds on products purchased within 90 days. Beyond the three-month period, or for purchases without proof of receipt, a credit is issued.
But what really makes Lands’ End stand out is the acceptance of products that have been monogrammed or even hemmed. Hundreds of their items are available for personalized engraving, heat stamping, and embroidery. So if you’re not satisfied with that monogrammed flannel shirt, you’re not stuck with it.
3. L.L. Bean still has one of the most lenient returns
L.L. Bean is legendary for having one of the most forgiving return policies ever. Shoppers used to be able to return at item, at any time with no proof of purchase. Maybe that’s why the company updated their policy earlier this year. The new rules allow for returns of up to one year with proof of purchase. However, if you purchased L.L. Bean items before the policy update (February 9, 2018), then that time-limit doesn’t apply to you.
4. Ikea offers refunds on delivery charges
A year is a pretty long time, and that’s exactly the window Ikea gives you to make returns on almost anything. As long as items are returned with proof of purchase and in resellable condition, you’re eligible for a full refund. Returning furniture you purchased online usually means a loss of your initial delivery charge, but Ikea will refund your delivery fee if a return is processed within 14 days of receiving your item.
5. Refunds on Costco membership fees at any time
Paying for items in bulk can offer a ton of savings, but for membership stores like Costco, that means paying a yearly fee. Annual membership ranges from $60-$120, but if at any time you’re not happy, Costco gladly offers a refund. In full. At any time. You can get a refund on membership if you’re not happy after one shopping trip or 100. Costco extends its leniency to other areas as well, accepting returns on all items (with certain exceptions, including electronics and diamonds).
6. Zappos makes return shipping a breeze
Online shoe and apparel retailer Zappos provides returns on items within 365 days, as long as they’re unworn and in the original packaging. Also, if the item came with an attached security tag, it must still be attached as well.
But Zappos really shines when it comes to sending pre-paid mailing labels. You can log into your account to print one out or have a label emailed to you. And if you don’t have access to a printer, the company will even send you the return label via mail. No need to worry about printing a thing.
7. Athleta accepts your worn workout gear
Even for stores with the most lenient return policies, most require clothes to be unworn or even with tags still attached. However, Athleta, a women's fitness apparel store owned by The Gap, is just the opposite thanks to the Give-It-a-Workout guarantee. They actually want you to wear their athletic gear and then, if you’re not satisfied, start the return process.
Their site states, “Work it out. If it doesn’t perform, return it.” Many people will probably have fitness resolutions for the new year, so at least yoga pants or hiking gear come with a return guarantee after you work up a sweat.
8. Kohl’s accepts returns from Amazon (in a few areas)
Kohl’s has a pretty standard return policy, but they’re working with Amazon to make those online orders and returns even easier. Select Amazon orders are eligible to be returned to participating Kohl’s stores in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Chicago. After starting the return process via amazon.com, print out your label and drop the package off at a designated Kohl’s spot. The department store will handle everything from there.
9. Target extends electronics returns for the holidays
Overall, Target’s return policy remains on the longer side of standard (90 days for returns or exchanges), but it’s a winner specifically for electronics around the holidays. The usual rule of thumb for electronics is 30 days for a refund or exchange, but for any items purchased between November 1 and December 25, the 30-day period doesn’t begin until December 26. Also, for all Target-owned brands (Threshold, Universal Thread, Opalhouse, etc.), the return policy is one year with proof of purchase.
10. Tomorrow will send someone to retrieve your unwanted mattress
Shopping for a mattress without testing it out can be tricky and feel like a gamble, but Tomorrow makes returns easy. All of their products (pillows, sheets, curtains, etc.) have a 100-day return for a full refund, no matter what shape they’re in, but that’s extended to 365 days for mattresses. If you have the original box, they’ll send a prepaid UPS label, but what are the odds of having a mattress box hanging around for a year? Luckily, box or not, Tomorrow will schedule a pick-up time to have the mattress retrieved.
11. CVS promises 100% satisfaction on all beauty products
CVS sells almost every affordable drugstore makeup or beauty brand, including our favorite liquid lipstick from Wet ‘n’ Wild. Their satisfaction guaranteed policy ensures you can return unopened and opened beauty items with a receipt. If that lipstick isn’t the right shade? No worries. Tried a new body wash, but you’re not loving it? Just head to the counter and let CVS know you’re not satisfied. The same 100% love it or return it policy applies to CVS brand products too.
12. Walmart has a 60-day satisfaction for prescription glasses
Walmart’s policies vary by department with most items being eligible for a return within 90 days. But if you wear eyeglasses, that window is 60 days to return prescription lenses. While this is a shorter time frame, that’s more than enough time to determine if a pair of specs works for you. Lenses can be returned in store at the Vision Centers or on walmart.com.
13. Bath & Body Works accepts returns under $250 without a receipt
The scents of pumpkin, lavender, and maple cinnamon are hard for anyone to resist, but sometimes you change your mind on that fragrant hand soap or body wash you thought you’d love so much. Whether you’ve tried a product once or haven’t even opened the packaging, Bath & Body Works allows refunds or exchanges at any time provided there’s proof of purchase. Without a receipt, an exchange or credit can still be provided. They even specify that they’ll accept up to $250 in returns in a three-month period for items without a receipt.
14. Michaels provides in-store cash refunds
Crafters everywhere are intimately familiar with Michaels. Shoppers have up to 180 days to return unused items in its original packaging. That’s a pretty generous return window for in-store and online sales.
But it gets even sweeter for in-store purchases with receipts. Most retailers will refund a purchase in the original method of payment, but for purchases made with a debit card, shoppers will be refunded in cold, hard cash. The same goes if you used PayPal and decided to return an online order to a store.
15. Trader Joe’s accepts returns on any food item, at any time
Trader Joe’s has a reputation for being shopper-friendly, but the return policy takes the cake for customer service. While it’s hard to track down an official return policy online, the grocery chain has been known to have a “no questions asked” stance. Just bring back the item, even if it’s half eaten, and an associate will process your refund.
16. Bloomingdale’s provides returns on final sale products
You’ve probably seen signs or a note on most of your receipts specifying clearance or final sale items are not eligible for returns, but Bloomingdale’s actually gives you up to 30 days to make up your mind on sales. If you’re not satisfied with a Final Offer item, return it within a month and get all your money back. For many of their other items, you can be refunded or receive credit as long as they’re returned within 365 days and in saleable condition.
17. The Home Depot has extended returns for card holders
There are a few items The Home Depot has return policy exceptions for: 30 days for furniture, consumer electronics, generators, and area rugs. But for the majority of merchandise, there home improvement giant has a 90-day return rule. However, if you purchased items with The Home Depot’s credit or charge cards, that extends to up to one year.