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Black Friday Return Policies: Are You Stuck with Your Purchases?

Nov. 14, 2013
Black Friday, Shopping
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You waited in the blistering cold for six hours to get that new video game for your son. A day later, you call everyone under the sun to talk about your Black Friday shopping experience. On call number six, grandpa mentions he found that new video game your son “never stops talking about” and picked it up while he was out.

One of you will have to take the game back. But, is this possible? After all, some stores refuse to accept returns on certain Black Friday merchandise.

Here’s what you can expect if you try to return something after Black Friday.


Count on a complicated return policy from most electronics retailers.

At Best Buy, most electronics purchased between November 3 and December 31 can be returned through January 15, 2014.  That said, its policies are rather complicated, so verify your item is returnable if you have any doubts.

Amazon won’t take computers or Kindles back after 30 days. And, while its policies on electronics returns are somewhat liberal, note that some sellers may impose stricter rules.

Meanwhile, Walmart appears to be the best of the bunch in terms of breadth. For most electronics, it typically has a 15-day return window. However, here’s a bonus: purchases made between  November 1 and December 24 can be returned through January 10, 2014.


Jewelry return policies are rather restrictive these days.

Zales won’t accept returns of class rings, customized jewelry, engraved items, or special-order watches. Others are generally returnable, but in the sense, that you may receive a gift certificate in exchange for your troubles. Most items are eligible for return within 60 days, although this drops to 30 for watches.

Tiffany’s will give you a refund, but only within the first 30 days. That could be problematic if you buy jewelry as a Christmas gift, given Black Friday is nearly a month before that holiday.


Toys are easily returnable in most cases.

Toys “R” Us offers a 90-day return policy on most items. Exceptions include some large merchandise such as pools and waterslides.

Kmart has a similar 90-day policy, as well.


Presumably due to piracy concerns, entertainment items typically carry strict return policies.

Best Buy will only accept opened computer software, movies, music and video games in exchange for an identical item. It does not accept returns of downloadable digital content at all.

Amazon has an even tighter policy in that such purchases must remain unopened and in their original plastic wrap.

Walmart’s policy is a smidge more lenient. It allows returns of such items within 90 days, provided they are unopened.


In general, clothing is easily returnable.

JC Penney accepts returns on most clothing and offers a refund of the purchase price with a receipt. If you lose your receipt, you’ll still get a refund, but it will be for the lowest recent selling price and in the form of a gift card. Note that special-occasion dresses must be returned in their original condition with the return tag in place.

Macy’s has an excellent return policy, accepting items at any time for a full refund (with a receipt).

Typically, clothing retailers are very reasonable with their return policies, assuming you don’t spill grape juice all over that white shirt before returning it.

Sporting Goods

Sporting goods stores usually have liberal return policies, so you should be able to return that football jersey if little Joey’s favorite team misses the playoffs.

Dick’s Sporting Goods offers a 90-day return policy on most items. Items it won’t accept, however, include ammunition, autographed collectibles, customized merchandise,  firearms and a few others.

Champs Sports has a similar policy, although there are no restrictions to mention.

Gift Cards

Gift card sales are often final. That said, some retailers like Rue 21 will refund your purchase. Confirm your chosen card is returnable before making the purchase if you’re not certain the recipient will use it.

Are Bundle or BOGO Deals More Returnable than Others?

A common belief is that bundle or buy one get one (BOGO) free deals are more returnable than others. However, there’s little evidence to support this. That said, if you are a frequent shopper at a given retailer, it might be willing to bend the rules a bit to keep your business.

Final Word

As you can see, most purchases are returnable, provided the item is not customized. That said, certain types of products such as electronics, movies, music, and the like often carry strict return policies. Keep in mind that gift card sales are typically final as well, so consider just giving the recipient cash or a check in lieu of a non-refundable card. If all else fails when returning an item, give it to a charity. This is more the season of giving than receiving after all!