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The 5 Best & Worst Return Policies

The 5 Best & Worst Return Policies
Angela Germano

We've all had moments of regret, where we've had to return something, either due to manufacturer defect or personal defect (“no, I LOVE this black suede poncho with glitter horses along the bottom, how did you know that this was my exact style in every way?”), and sometimes it's a simple point-and-click, and sometimes it's a four-hour “I don't even think we're using real words anymore” ordeal, and it varies from store to store. And unfortunately, figuring out which stores are the easy ones and which are “complicated” can be a very involved matter. To simplify things, we've made a list of the top 5 easiest and the top 5 most complicated stores so that your holiday and post-holiday returns and refunds party is more party and less “I'm the person crying on the bathroom floor, leave me alone.”

Top Five Best Stores for Returns/Refunds:


Books may be returned within 7 days of purchase, and subscriptions can be canceled at any time, often with the monthly fee refunded. Kindles purchased directly from amazon have a 30-day return window, and all come with a one-year warranty, and customer service will often extend it, depending on the circumstances, and if unable, will usually offer deeply discounted items to the customer in its place.


At Sephora, you can return nearly anything within 60 days of purchase, as long as you return it in the manner in which you purchased it: online, in a JC Penny Sephora, or the physical store itself. Items returned after 60 days will be issued as an online store credit, and return shipping labels are available for free on the store's website, with return shipping covered by the merchant itself. The only stated limitations are that the store does not accept returns of items after 90 days.


Zappos seems to set the standard for amazing customer service, with returns allowed for up to a year after purchase, as long as the item is in unused condition, in the original packaging. If there is an issue with a purchased item, customer service will go above and beyond to fix the issue, even replacing the used or damaged item if necessary, anything to keep the customer satisfied. They cover shipping both ways, and refunds are usually received within 7 days.

Beats by Dre

Beats by Dre has a 30-day, any reason return policy, with a clearly stated set of steps to return said product and even a list of recommendations as to what the consumer should do while returning the product by mail. The only limitation on this policy is that items purchased in the NYC store must be returned to that store specifically, instead of by mail. The company doesn't even always require original packaging (though of course it is preferred)!


REI maintains a friendly, liberal return policy, allowing a customer to even provide a handwritten in place of a proper receipt or gift label, or in the store if that's more convenient. You have the option of requesting a refund, exchange, repair, or even a credit to your card -- the response to your return is your oyster!

Top 5 Worst Stores for Returns/Refunds:


Credit/debit card removal is near impossible, and issues with physical and digital content and devices often take a significant amount of time and effort to resolve, sometimes leading to unresolved issues and customers left with defective or non-working items.


Very slow money refunds on devices, whether defective or not, and most issue resolutions take consumer-deemed unacceptable amounts of time, with no refunds on app purchases, even if purchased in error (such as by children/people unfamiliar with the software).

Toys 'R' Us

Blanket 90 days return/exchange window, though stores do not accept returns for online purchases. A receipt, either original or gifted, is required, and items returned to store will require some amount of customer information in order to process, though the process is not often followed in stores, and employees are not well-versed in the policy or how to follow it as stated.


The policy changed recently from a 90-day to a 30-day return window, with receipt for both returns and refunds, and regular customers were not informed of this change, even if they were members of the paid membership club, leading to a large series of miscommunications and lost money. Regular returns and exchanges in stores are often denied, even if the customer has both the item and the receipt.


Walmart return policies seem to change from store to store and clerk to clerk, with customers unable to return or replace damaged items, even in the stated time frame, with the receipt and original packaging.

When it comes to returns and returning items, the fact is, every store has its own policies and its own fine print. If you want to be safe, and to maximize your refund or return, the only thing you need to do is read the rules, and no matter how ridiculous or asinine, just follow them. If they want you to put a photo of your grandma in the both with your shoes, well, sorry Grandma, but Nike owns your picture now.