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Store Return Policies: How to Return that Christmas Sweater that Just Didn’t Fit

Jan. 2, 2013
Holiday Tips & News
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The presents have all been opened and the relatives are all on their way home, so the holidays are officially over. Now that you’ve had a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy all the wonderful gifts you’ve received, you’ve noticed that some are, well, not so wonderful.

Whether it’s an oversized shirt or a toy that just won’t work, some gifts – while laden with good intentions – just need to go back to where they came from.

Now through the end of January stores across the country (and around the world) will have return lines often longer than purchase lines. Save yourself the headache and do your research before you join the queue of returners. You don’t want to wait in line for 45 minutes only to find out that those ugly pink bunny slippers from your Aunt Maude are nonrefundable.

We’ve taken a closer look at a few stores to help you out. Here are the return policies of 10 of the country’s most popular stores:

1. Walmart

The giant chain makes returning your unwanted items relatively easy. You can return items up to 90 days from date of purchase and you don’t even need to have your receipt. According to its website, “Walmart gives customers the option of a cash refund (if the purchase was under $25), a shopping card for the amount of the purchase (if it was over $25) or an even exchange for the product.”

2. Target

All you need is the receipt or a valid form of identification to return your Target purchase in-store. According to the Target website, “most unopened items in new condition returned within 90 days will receive a refund or exchange. Some items have a modified return policy that is less than 90 days.

Those items will show a “return by” date under the item on your receipt or packing slip and in the “Item details, shipping” tab if purchased on

3. Best Buy

The original receipt, gift receipt or packing slip is required for all returns and exchanges. If returning or exchanging an item in a Best Buy store, a valid photo ID is also required.

Some items that are not returnable include: Labor, delivery and/or completed Geek Squad® installation services, some prepaid cards, digital subscriptions or service, consumable items such as food, drinks and batteries, items that are damaged or abused, and items that are missing accessories such as remote controls, cords and cables.

4. Old Navy

Old Navy is owned by Gap, so all return policies are extreme comparable to those associated with Gap store and online returns.

From the website: “Store purchase returns must have been originally purchased in an Old Navy store. If the item was pulled from a Final Sale rack, you will not be allowed to return the merchandise for any reason. Take your receipt and the item being returned to the store and the customer service representative will process the return.”

5. Disney Store

The Disney Store gives refunds in store credit although personalized products are not returnable.


According to their site, items shipped by between Nov. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2012 can be returned up until January 31, 2013 for a full refund. However, items must be in new condition, returned with all original packaging and accessories, must be unopened (movies must still be in plastic wrap), and have a UPC or serial number in order to get a full refund.

7. Bath & Body Works

Bring your receipt with you to return items at this popular lotion shop. Gift cards can’t be returned for cash.

8. J. Crew

According to its website, “J.Crew gladly accepts returns of unworn, unwashed, undamaged or defective merchandise purchased in our retail stores for full refund or exchange within 30 days of original purchase. Requests for refund or exchange of merchandise purchased by cash or check must be accompanied by the original receipt. Refunds will be made in the form of the original payment. Requests to exchange merchandise received as a gift must be accompanied by a gift receipt.”

9. Apple

Here’s some information that’s good to know before you go brave the lines at your neighborhood Mac store: You have 14 calendar days to return an item from the date you received it. For an Apple iPhone, you have 30 calendar days.

Only items that have been purchased directly from Apple, either through the Apple Online Store or at an Apple Retail Store, can be returned to Apple. Apple products purchased through other retailers must be returned in accordance with their respective returns and refunds policy.

Apple’s return policy is one of the worst out there, so make sure you’re aware of the ticking 14 day return window when you’re evaluating your new tech toys.

10. GameStop

You have seven days to return any products from GameStop to get your money back. The product must be in its original packaging and include all of its cables, manuals, and general parts.

General Tips

If you’re looking for a more advanced comparison of over 300 popular retailers, check out ReturnGuru’s return policy chart to find both links to the company’s return policy page and ReturnGuru’s own scoring of the merchant’s return practices.

Remember, too, that return policies won’t just vary by retailer – it’s possible they vary by state. Look up your state’s general refund policies, which will often be detailed in a consumer protection section of your state’s website, so you have an idea of the bare minimum required of a retailer.

California’s retail return policy, for example, requires merchants to place obvious and easily understandable signs on merchandise that cannot be returned for a cash refund, credit or exchange with proof of purchase within 7 days.

You can also return purchases through the mail. While each store and their return policies vary,

there are some key things to keep in mind before you send off that return package.

  • Use the original packaging or strong corrugated carton.
  • Include the original packing slip and be sure to keep the return label printed on the front for shipping.
  • Make sure you tape your package very securely.

Happy New Year!