5 Holiday Store Return Policies You Need to Know
You likely already know how to spot a good Black Friday deal (electronics are almost certainly on your list) and how to plan your shopping schedule so you hit all the best sales (cutting short your Thanksgiving dinner is practically a must).
But do you know how to return a deal that turns out to be less than what you expected?
Here are some Black Friday return policy dates and details you should know before bargain hunting at some of the biggest stores.
Before you scoop up discounted video games or reduced-price cellphones, know your return options. At Best Buy (BBY), purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 have an extended return period that lasts through Jan. 15. Some things are excluded from this extension, including cellphones and devices with a carrier contract, as well as AppleCare and Geek Squad Protection plans returned without a product.
Additionally, some products are final sale, which means they're nonreturnable. These include digital content, prepaid cards and opened consumable items including batteries, ink and 3-D printer filament, among others. Check the specifics for an item before you buy.
Best Buy purchases can be returned in-store (regardless of whether you purchased them online or in-store). Just remember to bring along your receipt, the credit card you used or your photo ID. Returns can also be made my mail, but you'll have to pay for postage.
At Target (TGT), most unopened items in new condition can be returned within 90 days for a refund or exchange. Exceptions include open music; movies; video games; and software, which can't be returned, but can be exchanged in-store for an identical title on the same or a different platform.
Electronics and entertainment items have a 30-day return period. But the return period for electronics and entertainment products purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25 won't start until Dec. 26.
Typically Amazon (and most sellers on Amazon) allows customers to return items within 30 days of receipt of shipment. But that period has been lengthened just for the holidays. Purchases shipped by Amazon.com (AMZN) between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 can be returned all the way through Jan. 31 for a full refund.
But there are a few things for shoppers to keep in mind: Marketplace sellers are subject to this same holiday window as Amazon unless otherwise noted. View a seller's specific return policy to see if the dates differ or not.
Amazon also has specific return guidelines depending on the type of purchase you make and which product category it falls in. Fine art purchases with a value of $75 or more, for instance, must be returned with trackable shipping. Gift cards can't be returned, except as required by law. Groceries and wine can't be returned to Amazon, but may be refunded. Consult the website's full return policy before buying.
Staples (SPLS) customers can return their purchases for any reason, and the return policy period for electronics has been extended.
Electronic and furniture items can usually only be returned within 14 days, but for purchases made between Nov. 22 and Dec. 24, that period lasts until Jan. 16 (or as regular policy allows, whichever is later).
There are exceptions, though. Gift cards and phone cards are neither returnable nor refundable. Opened software packages can only be exchanged for the exact same title. Downloadable software can't be returned or exchanged.
Select items purchased at Sears (SHLD) between Nov. 8 and Dec. 24 will carry extended return periods. Under this special holiday offering, products that would normally have a 30-day return period can instead be returned all the way through Jan. 24.
But shoppers should be cognizant of what they choose as a gift this year, as not everything you buy on Black Friday will fall under this extended window. For instance, Christmas items like trees and decorations can't be returned after Dec. 25. And certain other products (including vacuum cleaners and major home appliances) as well as purchases that typically carry a return period of less than 30 days won't be covered by the extended seasonal policy.
Read Between the Lines
Black Friday shopping is all fun and deals until you get stuck with a gift you don't want. Check out the full return policies of the stores above or any other store you plan on shopping at this season. Most policies are clearly articulated on the "return" page of a retailer's website.
Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, which saves consumers cash and compares everything from shopping deals to credit cards.