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Stores with stingy and generous return policies

Posted: 4:11 PM, Dec 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-25 16:11:00-05

It's that feeling of leaving of money on the table. Like many of us, Donna Rosato, senior editor of the money team for Consumer Reports, has experienced it before.

“I never even wore it. I knew right off the bat it was the wrong size but it took me too long to get the store, I was really upset,” Rosato said.

To better educate consumers on different store’s return policies, she ranked them. A retailer that consistently gets a good score is Nordstrom .

“It actually has no formal return policy, which might sound kind of tricky, but they're very open to exchanges on a case-by-case basis. They're known to be very generous. Unlike a lot of stores, there's no time limit, there's no receipts required,” Rosato said.

This year, L.L.Bean did away with its no-limit return policy after shoppers reportedly took advantage of the generous policy. However, they still give everyone a year and are willing to negotiate after that cut-off.

“Bed Bath & Beyond is still pretty generous. They also changed their policy in July and previously it was like Nordstrom . There was no time limit, they went to about a year, but they'll also offer to look it up for you if you bought it there or if it was purchased for you and they won't give you a hassle to exchange it,” Rosato said.

On the naughty list: Kmart, Sears, Forever 21 , and tech stores including Best Buy and Apple.

Best Buy has a 15-day return policy for most products. Apple gives consumers just 14-days to bring back items.

“And if the product is more than $750 and you want to return it for an exchange or a refund, they're going to take some time to process it, up to 10 days, because they want to check it, make sure you didn't do something to it so it's defective,” said Rosato.

And while it's the thought that counts, no one wants to be stuck with something they won't use.

“Yes, I think everyone is a little offended, maybe that's why the most popular gift given and wanted is a gift card,” said Rosato.

To read the full Consumer Reports article, click here .

Some tips for returning gifts:

  • Don't open the box, especially with electronics. Some stores may charge a restocking fee.
  • Keep the gift receipt
  • Check return policies and note any time limits
  • Bring an ID

Holiday grace period: Retailers will also extend return windows for the holidays. See below for different store’s policies.

  • Apple: Items purchased between Nov. 14 and Dec. 25 can be returned through Jan. 8
  • Best Buy: Items purchased between Oct. 28 and Dec. 28 can be returned through Jan. 12
  • Walmart: 90 days from purchase date
  • Target: Electronics and entertainment items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25 must be returned in 30 days. All Apple products, excluding phones, must be returned within 15 days starting on Dec. 26