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The Low Down on Returning Gifts Online

If you are on the receiving end of an awful gift, you just might find that it is harder than ever before to return it, especially if it was purchased online.

According to the National Retail Federation, only 28 percent of stores have special holiday return policies this year… that’s down from 58 percent in 2008.

With a lot of online retailers offering free shipping, many shoppers have turned to purchasing their gifts online.  As a matter of fact, according to comScore, an online information gathering company, online sales have been booming this year.  Spending from Thanksgiving thru December 15th was at $19.22 billion, up 21 percent from last year.

So what are you to do if you want to return that set of Redneck wine glasses or the 12 pack of Emergency Underwear that your Aunt Gladys bought online?  Well, your best bet is if good old Aunt Gladys bought your gifts at one of the four retailers with the most liberal online policies:

The Good Guys…

L.L. Bean: When it comes to L.L. Bean, there’s no return deadline.  Their open-ended policy states that you can “return anything purchased from us at any time.” You can return any item, no matter if it was purchased on or off line, at any store… but only store-brand cardholders get free shipping for mailed returns. If you are not a store-brand cardholders it will set you back $6.50 for the return.

Costco: The warehouse club giant Costco will let you return your unwanted gifts offering free return shipping.  They will even refund shipping charges paidon the initial order. Just like L.L. Bean, there is no return deadline…  well, with the exception of electronics, and they must be returned within 90 days.

Zappos.com: At Zappos, you have 365 days from the date that Aunt Gladys purchased your gifts to return them… they too offer free shipping on returns.  Clothing items must be unworn and in their original packaging however.

Nordstrom: Nordsrom not only offers free return shipping but makes available a printable online form and label. With this, you can mail back gifts and other items not purchased online that is more convenient than making your way to the store. The only catch is that Nordstrom Rack purchases must be returned within 30 days.

Now, if instead of the four stores mentioned above, your gift was purchased at the following retailers, you are going to have a harder time sending back those terrible gifts:

The Bad Guys…

Newegg.com: Newegg.com has more than three dozen specific policies that differ by product category and sale type.  Some policies are more lenient than others. Their site’s standard return policy allows for a refund or replacement of returns within 30 days… and adds on a 15 percent restocking fee when you request a refund.  You will also have to pay for return shipping, even if your item is defective

GameStop: At GameStop there is a 30-day window from the date on your packing slip to return most items… the items must be unopened. If your defective item is opened, you can return it for another exact item only and must be within 30 days. The policy on returning orders placed on the web is vague, saying “certain items” may be returned, but also that “store return policies may vary and are subject to manager approval.” but there is an extended holiday return policy in place.  The holiday return policy allows you to return unopened merchandise with a receipt from Oct. 1 and Dec. 24 and as late as Jan. 15, 2014

Gilt.com: Gilt’s policy also varies by the type and cost of the item. Most “non-sized” items, including toys and handbags, are not returnable at all. Footwear, clothing, and other returnable items priced at $199.99 or less can be returned only for site credit.  The more pricier items can be returned for credit or a refund… less the $7.95 shipping. No matter what the item, they must be returned within 21 days of the ship date.

Sports Authority: On the positive side, an extended holiday return policy will let you send back your unwanted gifts ordered between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, but you have only until Feb. 20, 2014. Online purchases cannot be returned to stores however, and mailing items back will cost you $6.50 on each order.

Each online retailer has their own return policy, some better than others as you can see.  If you absolutely can’t stand Aunt Gladys’ thoughtful gifts, and are dead set on returning them, it just might cost you more in time and shipping than it’s worth.

You know, you could always spread the joy and hang on to those unwanted gifts until next Christmas… and regift them!

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