The best and worst stores for gift returns

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This holiday season, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll either get or give a gift that will end up in the to-be-returned pile. But store policies vary widely so returning stuff might not be so easy. Consumer Reports checked out a number of major retailers’ return policies. Here are the five best and the five worst.

Nordstrom and LL Bean allow returns of all their merchandise with no time limit and no receipt required. LL Bean will even accept well-used items if you’re not satisfied and give you a store credit or exchange.


Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco and JC-Penney also have no time limit on returns and no receipt required. But not all merchandise qualifies. Check out the exceptions online.


Some stores have really restrictive return policies. You may only have 30 days or less to return the item and they likely insist on a receipt. Among the most restrictive return policies? They’re at Kmart, Sears, Forever 21, GameStop and Barnes and Noble. Keep in mind Barnes and Noble won’t take back anything that has been opened. Kmart also will refuse to take back opened movies, video games and music.


Many of the retailers with restrictive policies relax them for gift returns during the holidays. To get details on any particular store’s return policy, check out its website. The policy, including holiday exceptions is spelled out there.

Consumer Reports

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  • melanie

    Kmart IS the WORST for returns. Even outside of the holiday times, they are absolutely horrendous. I bought a portable fan that plugs into your cigarrette lighter in your car and when I plugged it in and turned it on it shorted out and started a small fire, melting the fan. I took it back (within 3 days of purchase), and they wouldn’t return it. hahahaha

    • Sears is garbage

      I dunno, Sears has them beat I think! My parents went through a year-long nightmare of trying to get a refund and even resorted to sending a letter to the CEO and of course heard NOTHING back. Finally it was resolved, but it shouldn’t have taken an entire year of fighting with them. Needless to say none of us will be buying from their garbage stores ever again!

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