Which Top 50 Stores Offer the Most Buyer Protection?
(There are no affiliate links in this post - it is strictly for informational purposes)
If you have arrived from Google - Welcome to 'Get A Life' by Good Looking Loser.
Below we will review the specific return [buyer-protection] policies of the majority of the top retailers in the United States.
We'll tell you which stores are friendly and which stores couldn't care less about about your satisfaction.
We'll also touch on the 'moral' issue of returning merchandise.
Why We Love Nordstrom
If you saw Good Looking Loser's "Spring 2014 Guide to Style," you might have noticed that we recommend purchasing your clothing and accessories Nordstrom.
Nordstrom, on first impression, seems to be in direct contrast to the frugal, bare-minimum, not-so-extravagant, "Spartan Lifestyle" that we also recommend that guys in their 20's follow - no matter than parent's financial status or job prospects.
Nordstrom, however, as some are sure to know - has the most friendly return policy of any store on the face of the earth.
Most people are familiar with the story that Nordstrom once gave an old lady a refund on a old, worn tire - even though Nordstrom has never sold anything that resembles the mass of burnt rubber that she hauled into the store - without a receipt.
No-hassle, no interrogation, no-receipt needed - so long as you bought it on a credit or debit card (they can look it up).
Their online orders are great too.
Your shipment comes with a paid postage stamp in case you want to return any items. They'll even schedule a time for UPS to come by your house to pick up your return.
For reasons like this, I absolutely do not mind dropping money at Nordstrom or recommending them to you.
There's some other stores that have equal or similar return policies that I want to tell you about.
Ethics: Renting Merchandise - For Free?
Before we run down the list, lets touch on the morality issue of returns.
Nordstrom and all other stores that have Friendly return policies leave themselves open to abuse.
I'm not suggesting you do this - I'm mainly suggesting that you shop at 'Friendly' stores with the confidence that you'll never 'get stuck' with clothing that you don't wear or is out of style. It's 'Buyer Protection'.
- How much garbage do you have in your closet that you wore only one time?
- How much junk do you have in your refrigerator that you know that you aren't going to eat?
- How much crap is sitting in random drawers in your bedroom or office that isn't getting any use?
I also suggest that you avoid the stores that couldn't care less about you and are willing to lose a customer for life in order to keep the profit on a t-shirt that cost less than 2 cents to produce.
- How many times have you not tried to execute your right to return or exchange something because you didn't want to "make trouble"?
- How many times did you regret making a purchase and thought you were stuck with it?
- How many times did an employee that makes $6/hour try to intimidate you into not requesting a return?
Although many of us are quite responsible and thirty - the average person with a consumer lifestyle buys and collects junk even to rival their Grandmother.
Part of living a frugal or 'Spartan' Lifestyle is being resourceful and not ignorant.
If you are truly following this lifestyle, you won't have to make numerous returns from extravagant shopping sprees.
Keep in mind, if you ARE legitimately abusing these lenient return policies (we are talking like - returning $1000s and $1000s of old worn clothing, over and over) these private businesses CAN refuse your business and deny you entry to their store.
Don't push things.
This shouldn't be a problem for most people.
I know that a lot of girls that consider 'retail therapy' an acceptable treatment for stress will end up reading this article - don't abuse these policies, fix your shopping addiction.
Also, learn to save your receipts.
Wealthy people always save their receipts and know exactly how much money is coming in and how much going out. They all can spot (and prove) fraudulent/over-charges on their bank statements.
If you ever plan on having money - start making this a habit and put them in order by date at the end of the month.
Good Looking Loser's Friendly Seal of Approval
(Major Retailers with No-Hassle Return Policies, Quality Merchandise - From Experience)
- Bath & Body Works
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Costco (electronics are 90 days)
- Natural Grocers (regional stores in the Pacific Northwest)
- Trader Joe's
- Whole Foods Market
- * Amazon Prime (free returns; although Amazon Prime allows for 90 days - I have this on my list because the program is so good. Amazon pays for the shipping, has an easy interface to print up the label and will give you 100% of your money back if you indicate that you are returning the item because it didn't work, was different than the website description or other plausible reason. If you pick the option [item no longer wanted] - you'll have to pay a restocking fee - so don't pick that one).
List of Major Retailers and Their Return Policy
Represents Very Friendly Return Policy From Personal Experience
Represents Very Unfriendly Return Policy From Personal Experience
Major Retail Stores
Most retail stores have fairly-friendly policies but some places will hassle you even though it is in their policy to accept the return.
Stick to your guns if you have a legitimate return.
Amazon.com – Amazon.com allows returns of most items for up to 30 days after the receipt of shipment. However, their individual sellers may have differing return policies. In general, items must be unopened and unused and will need to be shipped back in order to receive a refund. Amazon prime allows for no-hassle, free returns on prime merchandise that.
Big Lots – Big Lots offers refunds for 30 days after purchase. An original receipt is required, and the items must be in original conditions with all their accessories and packaging. Refunds will be given in the same method of payment as the merchandise was bought with.
Costco - Costco has a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee policy. Anything can be returned at any time for any reason for a full refund. The only items that must be returned within 90 days of purchase are electronics such as TVs, computers, cameras, cellphones, music players, and tablets.
CVS – CVS has a hassle-free return policy. For nonprescription products, they allow 30 days for products to be returned in-store or by mail. For CVS Brand products and beauty products, CVS has a 100% satisfaction guarantee policy; these items can be returned at any time, opened or unopened, for a full refund.
Rite Aid – Rite Aid allows the return of unused merchandise for up to 30 days of shipment date or purchase. With a receipt, Rite Aid offers full refunds within the 30 day period. Without one, they can offer either a product exchange or a refund for the lowest price the item has sold for in the past 30 days. Rite Aid Brand and beauty products can be returned at any time, used or unused for a full refund.
Target – Target allows refunds or exchanges for unused items within 90 days of purchasing. A receipt or packing slip is required in order to receive a refund. The credit card used to make the purchase may be necessary, too. Electronics and Entertainment items only have a 30 day period to exchange. Even though Target's return policy seems reasonable enough, my roommates (and just about everyone I asked), had trouble with legitimate returns at Target. If you don't have a receipt, even if the merchandise is the Target brand - you will be out of luck or run into hostility.
Walgreens – Walgreens allows items purchased within 30 days to be exchanged or refunded for the full amount. With a receipt, full purchase price is refunded. Without the original receipt, items can be refunded for the lowest advertised price of the item, and the refund will be given as store credit.
Walmart – Walmart does not require a receipt for returns. They offer a cash refund for items under $25 and a gift card for items purchased for over $25. They also offer exchanges. However, you can only make three No Receipt returns per 45 days. Most items can be returned within 90 days unused; some electronics must be returned within 15 days.
Major Food and Grocery Stores
It is my opinion that every grocery store should have a no-hassle return on food items that have not surpassed their 'sell by' or expiration date.
Albertsons – Albertsons offers refunds for any food product that you are not satisfied with, either in taste, freshness, or for another reason. This place has a friendly policy, the food is overpriced and low-quality.
Ingles Markets – Ingles Markets does not list a clear return policy.
Kroger – Kroger offers returns for products you are not satisfied with. You must return the product, packaging, and receipt in order to receive a refund,exchange, or a Kroger Gift Card.
McDonald’s – All sales are final.
Publix – Publix allows returns and full refunds for any purchase that you are not completely satisfied with.
Safeway – If you were charged the wrong price for an item, you should be refunded the full price you paid if the item is less than $5. If the item costs more than $5, you should receive the difference between what you paid and the advertised price, plus a $5 Safeway gift card.
Save Mart – If you are not satisfied with a purchase, return it along with your receipt in order to receive a refund or exchange. This applies to products that have passed their freshness date.
SuperValu – No clear return policy listed. They state they would happy to arrange a refund or exchange if there is a problem with a product.
Trader Joe’s – Trader Joe’s offers a hassle-free policy for Trader Joe brand products. If you aren’t satisfied, you can bring back their products for a refund or exchange.
Whole Foods Market – Whole Foods offers full returns or exchanges for products you are not satisfied with due to taste or other factors.
Williams-Sonoma – An original receipt is required to return non-defective items. These items must be returned within 90 days to receive a refund or exchange. Defective products may be returned for replacement or store credit only.
WinCo Foods – Items that fall under WinCo’s Quality Assurance Policy can be returned for full reimbursement or replacement if they are unsatisfactory to you. Returns for terms that do not fall under their policy are at the discretion of the store manager. The managers aren't very friendly, "WinCo" is a "White Trash" grocery store - but you can't beat the prices.
7-Eleven – 7-Eleven does not offer refunds on consumable items. The stores are independently owned, so other refunds are at the discretion of the store.
Major Clothing and Apparel Stores
You should know the return policy before you purchase clothing.
Some stores will not except unworn, unwashed, with receipt merchandise back if the tags are taken off.
Employees are trained to 'politely intimidate' and discourage legitimate returns.
Buckle – Merchandise must be returned in its original condition with tags attached and within 60 days to receive a return or exchange. Swimwear must be returned within 30 days of purchase. The original receipt is required. In my experience - you absolutely cannot return clothing that is anything but in PERFECT CONDITION.
Burlington Coat Factory – Products must be returned for any reason within 30 days of purchase along with the original receipt. The merchandise must be new and unused. Merchandise returned after the 30 days will be issued a gift card. Non-receipted returns returned within 60 days of purchase will receive a gift card for the lowest selling price of the item.
Dillard’s – Dillard’s allows returns for any item in the original packing materials. They do not have information on a time limit or need of receipt.
Foot Locker – Returns of new products within 90 days are either refunded or given an exchange. After 90 days, a gift card will be issued instead of a full refund. A receipt or shipping invoice is required.
Gap – For any product bought from a Gap store (i.e. Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic), you have 45 days to return the items. Piperlime, another Gap store, allows 30 days to return items; Athleta items can be returned at any time. For all companies except Athleta, items must be unworn and unwashed.
J.C. Penney – With a receipt, JC Penney allows exchange or refund for the purchase price. Without a receipt, an exchange or refund can be awarded for the item’s lowest selling price. Furniture must be returned within 30 days (receipt required) and fine jewelry and small electronics in 60 days (receipt required).
Kohl’s – Kohl’s offers a hassle-free, question-free return policy. With a receipt, a full refund or exchange is given. Without a receipt, you can still make an exchange, get a refund, or get store credit. Kohl's in an absolutely wonderful store - store there with confidence.
Macy’s – Returns or exchanges can be made at any time after purchase. If you have a receipt, a full refund will be issued in the original form of payment. If you have no receipt, you will receive store credit for the item’s lowest selling price within the past 180 days.
Neiman Marcus – Items returned within 60 days with proof of purchase will receive a 100% refund. From 61-120 days, you can receive a 75% refund. From 121-180 days, you can receive a 50% refund. After that, no refund will be issued. Items must be unworn and have tags attached.
Nordstrom – Nordstrom allows returns if you have the receipt/packing slip and the credit card used to place the order. No time limit is cited.
Ross Stores – Receipts are required for returns. Unworn merchandise can be returned within 30 days of purchase for full refund. After 30 days, items can only be returned for an exchange or store credit. For swimwear and lingerie, the price tags must still be attached.
Sears Holdings – Sears offers returns and exchanges for items in their original packaging with their original receipt. 90 days are allowed for bed and bath items, beauty items, clothing, rugs, drapes, infant items, housewares, and home décor. You have 60 days to return automotive accessories, plumbing and electrical components, fitness items, seasonal items, outdoor living items, tools, toys, and other unlisted merchandise. There is 30 day period for electronics, vacuums, home appliances, office supplies, video games, movies, fine jewelry, and sewing machines.
Major Sporting Goods Stores
Sporting goods stores are notorious for not taking returns - even for unused items.
Champs Sports – Items can be returned in store-bought condition to any store within 90 days along with a receipt or shipping invoice to receive a full refund or exchange. After 90 days, a gift card or exchange will be issued instead.
Dick's Sporting Goods – Returns must be received within 90 days for a full refund or exchange. Without a receipt, a gift card will be issued for the lowest price offered on the item. Firearms, electronics that are unpackaged, unpackaged baseball bats, and electric scooters cannot be returned.
Sports Authority – An unclear return policy that leaves most returns up to the manager’s discretion. The only returns that are guaranteed are unused items that are returned within 30 days of purchase with a receipt. Online orders cannot be returned in stores.
Major Hardware Stores
A lot of the merchandise available at these stores can be purchased with more 'buyer protection' at Costco or Walmart.
Ace Hardware – Ace Hardware has a 30-day return policy. Any item other than gift cards and gas-powered outdoor equipment can be returned in order to receive store credit.
Home Depot – Returns within 90 days of purchase along with a sales receipt can be exchanged, refunded, or replaced with store credit. Generators, furniture, and consumer electronics must be returned within 30 days.
Lowe's – If you are not satisfied with a product, return the product to Lowe’s within 90 days. They have the discretion to either repair it or replace it if damaged or refund your money. Without a receipt, only store credit can be issued. Major appliances must be returned within 90 days.
Major Electronic Stores
Most stores that sell electronics don't have super-friendly return policies. You can't blame them.
Even Costco changed their return policies on electronics after thousands of people were buying televisions and returning them the day after the Superbowl.
Apple Stores / iTunes – Apple allows 14 calendar days to return an item that has been purchased directly from an Apple store. Items that cannot be returned include opened software, software downloads, software upgrades, gift cards, and Apple print products.
Best Buy – Best Buy offers 15 days to return eligible products. Elite members of Best Buy receive 30 days to return items whereas Elite Plus members receive 45 days to return them. Opened or used items cannot be returned. In my experience - Best Buy has an inconsistent policy that seems to vary from store to store. As a side note, don't buy their 'product insurance', they will not honor anything that breaks - ever.
RadioShack – RadioShack has a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. If you are unsatisfied with an item, you can return it within 30 days for a full refund. Item must be in new condition, in its original box, with all of its accessories and paperwork. Little old Radio Shack has been friendly to most people I know, shop here while it's still in business.
Major Home Improvement Stores
Like Hardware stores, most merchandise at these stores can be purchased at Costco or Walmart that offer more 'buyer protection'.
Bed Bath & Beyond – No clear policy is stated. They mainly say that they would be happy to refund or exchange items with original packaging and proof of purchase. In my experience Bed Bath & Beyond is excellent. They will take ANYTHING BACK, AT ANY TIME - with a receipt.
IKEA North America – An unused item can be returned within 90 days unless noted otherwise. A receipt is required. Used bedding, cut fabric, as-is products, and custom countertops cannot be returned.
Sherwin-Williams – Upon proof of purchase, Sherwin-Williams accepts returns for up to 30 days of purchase. This excludes tinted paints, stains, and other coatings.
Major Office Supply Stores
I absolutely hate these stores - miserable people, unfriendly return policies, overpriced merchandise.
Office Depot – Office Depot Brand products can be returned at any time for any reason. With a receipt, a full refund will be issues. Other office supplies with original receipt in an unopened conditioned can be returned in 30 days. Electronic products can be returned, unopened, with a receipt in 14 days.
OfficeMax – For general returns, products can be returned within 30 days with the original receipt for a refund. Without a receipt, store credit will be given for the lowest price of the item in the last two months. Technology products and furniture must be unopened and returned within 14 days.
Staples – If you are not satisfied with a purchase from Staples, you can return it for any reason. It must be in new condition and in the original package. A packing slip or receipt is required. Technology and furniture must be returned within 14 days. Despite the seemingly clear rhetoric in their return policy, in my experience - Staples is THE WORST for returns. They will hassle you over legitimate returns of unopened merchandise even if you have a receipt. I will never buy anything from this place again.
Major Value or 'Discount' Stores
Many people pay with cash at these stores and throw away their receipt. Don't toss your receipt.
Dollar General – An item in good condition with all of its paperwork and accessories can be returned within 30 days for a full refund.
Dollar Tree – Dollar Tree does not offer refunds and considers all sales final. They will exchange unopened merchandise with an original receipt.
Family Dollar Store – Merchandise can be returned within 30 days of purchase if you are not satisfied. With a receipt, a refund will be issued. Without a receipt, a gift card will instead be issued.
True Value – Merchandise can be returned within 30 days with a valid receipt. Items must be unopened and unused.
Major Dietary Supplements Stores
GNC - Returns are accepted if they are within 30-days when accompanied by a receipt. GNC products can be returned, without a receipt for in-store credit. Non-GNC products, however, are not accepted without a receipt. My friends that worked at GNC said that every return is still subject to 'manager's discretion' and legitimate returns can be refused - for any reason. They also noted that GNC has become 'more friendly' toward returns than they used to be.
Vitamin Shoppe - Vitamin Shoppe allows for returns [for any reason] within a 30-day period when accompanied with a receipt. In my personal experience, you can return items without a receipt and you will receive store credit. To be fair, they offer partial refunds for products that are more than half used. The policy is friendly but their employees tend to be miserable people that aren't particularly happy to help you.
Major Miscellaneous Stores
Barnes & Noble – Online returns are allowed for up to 14 days excluding Nook books and bulk orders of 50 or more items. In-store returns are also permissible, but they ask you to call your local Barnes & Noble for more information.
Michaels Stores – Returns with receipt are allowed for up to 60 days. Items must be new and in original packaging. Returns without a receipt or after 60 days will be issued store credit for the lowest price for the item in the last 90 days. Custom framing jobs must be returned within 14 days, magazines must be returned within 1 day, and book must be returned within 30 days. Classes can be refunded only before the date of the class.
Toys "R" Us – Purchases can be returned for up to 90 days. Items must be new, in original packaging, and you must have a receipt or packing slip.