Holiday e-shopping has begun, and with it the potential for gift returns. Because online merchants have different policies, it pays to read the fine print before you buy.
Some stores only give 30-days leeway, which means recipients can't return purchases after Christmas. Happily, some merchants are changing these deadlines for the holidays, but because there are websites who truly believe "fineprint" means "itsy bitsy print in a very pale pastel," FreeShipping.org compiled a list of major e-retailers and their return policies for 2011.
You've got 60 days to return Ann Taylor purchases, but if you don't have the receipt, only a store credit is issued. Gifts returned online will result in an e-gift certificate, so be sure to include your e-mail address on the return receipt. An in-store gift return yields a hard-copy gift certificate in the amount paid by the sender.
Bath & Body Works
Because Bath & Body Works believes "no sale is ever final," they don't need to extend their holiday deadline. You don't need a sales receipt or shipping invoice for gifts, but they can only be returned to brick-and-mortar Bath & Body Works stores.
Another great shoe deal: Zappos's free shipping is good both for purchases and returns. Whether you're unhappy with a purchase or simply change your mind, Zappos will provide a full refund or exchange within 365 days of purchase. You'll need the original packaging, however, to make the return.
At Victoria's Secret, you have 90 days to return that lacy tidbit for cash. Ater that deadline, Victoria's Secret will only provide store credit. To return gifts, check the box on the Return/Exchange Form attached to the original invoice indicating you're returning a gift and provide your shipping information. If you don't have the original invoice, use their printable return and exchange form.
There's no deadline for Coldwater Creek returns by mail or to a retail outlet. If you're sending it back and don't have a receipt or packing slip, make sure you include your name and address on a note enclosed with the package.
Enjoy Best Buy free shipping now through December 27, and return gift purchases, with no exclusions, through January 4. The electronics behemoth is spreading the holiday cheer even further by removing restocking fees for all products, including special orders, within this timeframe.
Costco's standard return policy is a liberal 365 days, so there's no need to extend their deadline for the holidays. In addition, Costco refunds membership fees if a customer isn't satisfied. Refunds for Internet purchases include shipping and handling charges.
The best part of JCPenney's online returns is they pay for shipping and handling, no matter what your reason for returning the product. You have up to 90 days and, with a gift receipt, will receive a JCPenney gift card in the amount of purchase.
You'll need an original receipt or email confirmation dated within 90 days of the original date of purchase. No exceptions, apparently.
Return any item, anytime, for any reason. Have your receipt? You'll get a full refund or even exchange. No receipt? No problem. Kohl's will give you a refund, an exchange or store credit.
For returns without an exchange, use the return label for a flat shipping fee of $6.95. You also can return your order to any Sears or Lands' End store and entirely avoid shipping costs.
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The sky's the limit with L.L. Bean, which has no return deadline and doesn't require authorization before you ship your gift back to them. Just download and fill out an online form or use the form printed on the packing slip.
The return deadline for Macy's is a generous 180 days and you don't need a receipt because they have a program that identifies products in their system. Too cool! Gifts will receive a store credit or exchange. Please note the deadline for jewelry purchases is only 30 days.
Return the gift in its original packaging, with the original receipt or email confirmation, within 90 days of purchase for a refund or exchange. Alternately, you can return a purchase from Sears.com to one of their stores.
As with Endless, Shoebacca provides totally free shipping both ways and a 365-day window in which to return or exchange unwanted gifts.
Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us
Online purchases returned by mail within 90 days to their online Returns Center by mail are refunded to the original form of payment, which means the gift giver will know your dirty little secret and you'll come up empty handed. Instead, make returns to a Toys 'R' Us or Babies 'R' Us store for a merchandise credit.
You can return or exchange most store items with a receipt within 90 days of purchase. Visit walmartstores.com to see exceptions for electronic and regulated items. You can return online purchases to any Walmart store.