Buyer's Guide to Return Policies for Black Friday 2011

By , dealnews Senior Feature Writer

November is the start of the holiday shopping season, and while there are plenty of discounts to be had, sooner or later you're bound to find yourself disillusioned with one of your purchases. That's when return policies enter the picture.

Below we've created a return policy cheat sheet for 2011's top 10 most-deal friendly online stores. Remember, policies vary by store so always double check return policy before making a purchase — especially with big ticket items. Some additional guidelines worth keeping in mind:

  • All online stores require an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) unless you're returning something to a local store. To get an RMA, contact the merchant before sending an item back.
  • Always save your receipt.
  • Costco has the best return policy of all the companies listed in our chart.
  • Not all stores enforce their restocking fee in every case, and you may find some willing to accept a return that they normally would refuse. It's worth a call to customer service to haggle.

In addition to these tips, we also recommend contacting customer service if you have any questions regarding your return. Although each retailer we list has a return policy on its website, other restrictions may apply. In addition, some stores may not list holiday return policies, so it never hurts to double check with a phone call or email.

Return Policy
Restocking Fee
Non-Refundable Items
Return Shipping
30 days to return most new, unopened items for a full refund. Opened items or new items returned after 30 days may receive a partial refund (up to 80%). Items used or damaged not due to an Amazon error will receive a refund of up to 50%.
Up to 20% from Authorized Sellers (unless the item is damaged or the return is a result of an Amazon error)
Varies. Grocery products and personal care items can't be returned; however, Amazon will issue a full refund for damaged products sold by Amazon.
Paid by consumer (unless the return is a result of an Amazon error)
90 days for most items; 15 days for computers, computer components, and accessories; 15 days for camcorders, and digital cameras, and postpaid cell phones
Varies by department. Walmart's No Receipt Policy requires items be returned in-store only, for a cash refund (for items under $25), a gift card (for items over $25), or an even exchange. If the customer has returned more than three items without a receipt within a 45-day period, a Walmart manager must approve the return.
Paid by consumer (unless the return is a result of a Walmart error, in which case Walmart will also refund any applicable gift-wrapping charges)
90 days for most items; 30 days for home electronics, mattresses, air conditioners, gas powered equipment, jewelry, and watches
15% for certain oversized or opened items and special orders cancelled after 24 hours of purchase
Items without a receipt or email confirmation; restrictions apply to certain opened or used items; customized jewelry
Paid by consumer (unless the return is the result of a Sears error)
30 days for most products (from the date the item is received); 14 days for some electronics; 45 days for all products for Reward Zone Premier Silver Members
25% on special order products
No refunds for: digital content, consumables, items damaged by the customer, and non-defective, opened computer software, movies, music, and video games
Paid by consumer (unless the return is a result of a Best Buy error)
Any item can be returned at any time, but the sooner the better.
Paid by consumer (unless the item is defective, damaged, or recalled, or a result of a Kohl's error).
90 days for most purchases; 45 days for electronics, computer hardware, netbooks, and cameras. Must have an in-store receipt from Target's online return center to return an item purchased online to a store.
Some opened items, including music, movies, video games, software, and collectibles; gift cards, e-gift cards, prepaid music, game, and phone cards; other restrictions may apply.
Paid by consumer (unless the return is a result of a Target error, in which case Target will also refund applicable gift-wrapping charges)
90 days for most products in unused, like-new condition; 30 days for furniture, air conditioners, and generators
Major appliances, plants, and live goods including flowers, holiday trees, wreaths, and garland
Paid by consumer
30 days for most products including jewelry, sterling silver flatware, bridesmaid dresses, rugs, and lamps; 60 days for mattresses; 90 days for tempur-pedic mattresses; 3 days for other furniture
10% on furniture
Jewelry and watches if altered; food and gourmet gifts
Paid by consumer
90 days for most items; 30 days for outdoor power equipment and major appliances including refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, and more
Paid by consumer (unless the item is flawed or the return is a result of a Lowe's error)
90 days for televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, iPod/ MP3 players, and cellular phones; all other items unlimited.
Paid by consumer

Lead photo credit: MarloByDesign

An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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