Good Luck Returning Stuff at These 5 Stores with Worst Policies


For the next few days, people will be heading to the malls and department stores returning gifts that they don’t like, don’t fit or just want to return for any number of reasons. It’s not going to be an easy task if the item you have to return will be going back to one of these 5 stores that GOBankingRates determined last year has the worst return policies.

Here is what they have in common: They have short time limits on returns, often don’t accept returns without a receipt and have other terms that make returns trickier. The worst store, in fact, doesn’t offer refunds at all — returns are only eligible for exchange or store credit.

1. Forever 21 Return Policy

Forever 21’s return policy is the worst of the retailers surveyed, and makes it harder for customers to get back their money once it’s spent. Forever 21 only allows 21 days for returns, and purchases can only be exchanged for other items or refunded in store credit, not in the original form of payment. Items must also be unworn, unwashed and unused with tags still attached. Forever 21 will be extending its return window for the holidays this year, so ask the cashier about this at checkout.

For online returns by mail, Forever 21’s policy is slightly better. It extends the return window to 30 days, and will refund the purchase to the credit card used to pay. The Forever 21 return policy also noted that final sale items, cosmetics and gift cards cannot be returned for a refund or exchange, except to correct a defect or error.

2. Kmart Return Policy

Kmart (SHLD) allows just 30 days for customers to return items, and does not accept returns made without a receipt. Customers making a return with a gift receipt can receive an exchange for store credit only.

Many items will not be eligible for return if their packages are opened — including music, movies, video games and software. Kmart has no plans to offer an extended holiday return window this year, the retailer confirmed via Twitter.

3. Barnes & Noble Return Policy

The window for returns allowed by Barnes & Noble (BKS) is the shortest on our survey, at just two weeks (14 days). Items must be unopened and returned in their original condition, per the Barnes & Noble return policy, though refunds will be issued in the original form of payment.

The bookseller will not issue returns without a receipt or other proof of payment, and returns made with a gift receipt will receive refunds via store credit. Barnes & Noble did extend its return window last holiday season, CNBC reported.

4. GameStop Return Policy

GameStop (GME) allows just 30 days for returns, and will make no returns without a receipt. Items returned with a gift receipt qualify only for exchanges or refunds in store credit.

Pre-owned items can be returned for a refund within seven days, or for an identical exchange within 30 days. GameStop’s return policy requires that all items be returned with original packaging and in “sellable condition,” and reserves the right to refuse returns of opened items.

5. Sears Return Policy

Sears (SHLD) has a worst return policy that does not allow returns without a receipt. The department store will only make returns for which the customer can provide a receipt or other proof of purchase within 30 days. Sears’ return policy on gift receipts is to provide only exchanges or refunds via gift cards.

However, Sears will extend its return on windows for the holidays, allowing items purchased by Dec. 24 to be returned through January 24, 2016. The original packaging is required for the return to be accepted, and some items will carry a 15 percent restocking fee which will be deducted from the refund. Sears will not accept any returns of Christmas season items after December 25.

Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed the return policies of 31 major retailers popular during the holiday shopping season to determine the best and worst. GOBankingRates ranked each policy on (1) the return window provided, (2) whether the retailer accepted returns without a receipt, (3) the condition required for returns, and (4) whether the store typically offered extended holiday returns. Other return policy terms unique to retailers were considered in the rankings, as they benefited the customer.

This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.

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