Return policies vary from store to store, state to state

Make sure to bring a receipt when returning holiday gifts. According to Consumer World, Target has a 90 day policy for most goods but 30 days for most gadgets. The 30 days, however, started the day after Christmas to accommodate gifts. (Photo by Bill S. on Flickr)


As hard as family and friends try, sometimes their holiday gifts are all wrong. The sweater they bought you is too small. You already have an iPad. Or you are too old for a Barbie doll. Luckily many stores allow you to return the undesirable gift for cash or a exchange it for a store credit.

To make the return process easier, Consumer World  put together a report of “Holiday Return Policies.” The annual list is a rundown of “noteworthy policies, policy changes, or unusual return policies” at the nation’s largest retailers. Consumer World also notes laws that may impact your ability to make returns in select states and loans tips on how avoid a stressful return experience.

A few stand out store policies include:

  • Sears shortened its regular return policy for many categories of items from 90 days to 60 days. Its extended holiday return period is no longer 120 days across the board, but 30 and 60-day category items can be returned until January 24 or maybe later.”
  • Toys-R-Us eased its policy to now accept electronics and similar items for return even if the package has been opened. Previously, they were not returnable. Online purchases returned to a store still only qualify for a merchandise credit.”
  • Amazon no longer has 30 different product-specific return policies.”

In most states, retailers are free to set their own return policies. Most policies fall into three broad categories: all sales final, store credit only or return within 30 days. Many states require that policies be made clear before any money is exchanged. Consumer report loans a few tips to holiday-season returners. Wait a few days so you don’t get caught in the return rush. Hold onto your receipt. And make sure to check each stores policies before heading to the mall.

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