Making returns during the holiday season isn’t always an easy task. Some retailers’ policies can make it difficult to return or exchange the items you purchase and the gifts you receive.
Want to save yourself some of the headache by knowing which stores have strict return policies? The companies on our list have relatively short return windows, and many require a receipt. Others have strict guidelines, which make returns a hassle.
The GameStop return policy is complicated. New accessories that have been opened can be returned within 30 days for a full refund, but other new merchandise that’s been opened cannot. No product can be returned after more than 30 days, but unopened new tablets are only eligible for a full refund within 14 days of purchase. GameStop requires a receipt for all returns or exchanges.
2. Forever 21
You don’t have forever to return a purchase from Forever 21. In fact, you have only have 30 days from the online shipping date (unless the retailer extends the return window for the holidays, as it did in 2015). If the item was purchased in a Forever 21 store, its policy says, “Please contact your local store for return policy information.” Other parts of the online policy leave more to be desired, too. Here’s the long list of items that may not be returned or exchanged: gift cards, e-gift certificates, cosmetics, underwear, select lingerie, select swimwear, earrings, body piercings and online items marked “final sale.”
You have until Jan. 8 to return items purchased between Nov. 4 and Dec. 25 at Lululemon. The retailer is quite strict about requiring a receipt, and the garments must be unwashed, unworn and have all of the tags intact. Its warning that “all garments are subject to inspection” creates another potential complication. Plus, underwear, water bottles, gift cards and all items from the “we made too much” department are considered “final sale” and thus not returnable.
4. Best Buy
For the holiday season, Best Buy has extended the time frame for accepting returns to Jan. 15. But it lags other big retailers like Amazon and Kohl’s, which will accept returns through Jan. 31. And Best Buy likely will ask you to pay the shipping costs of returning an item by mail. The company says you can add your own postage or use a prepaid return label, but the “return shipping fee may be deducted from your refund.”
5. Victoria’s Secret
Victoria’s Secret has a generous return window. If you return merchandise within 90 days of purchase, your refund will come in the form of your original payment. After 90 days, you will get a merchandise card. But not all online returns are free. If you choose the store’s prepaid return label option when sending back online purchases, shipping and handling costs of $5.99 will be deducted from your refund.
6. Office Depot
Office Depot’s return policy runs through Jan. 14 for the holidays. Purchases made through Dec. 24 can be returned until then, or as the policy allows — whichever is later.
Most stores accept returns on unwanted items, but some stores’ policies are less convenient. Check the return policies and gather your receipts before you head to the store or post office to make the return or exchange. Better yet, read the store’s return policy before you make purchases this holiday season.
Updated Nov. 4, 2016.