The world’s 11th-largest retailer, with more than $61 billion in annual sales, recently raised the requirement for free Super Saver shipping on eligible items by $10, to $35.
The electronics chain has a stern warning for customers who plan to make a return: Even if you have a receipt, you will need to present a photo ID and Best Buy retains the right to store information from your ID in its database to track future returns and exchanges. “Based on return/exchange patterns, some customers will be warned that subsequent returns and exchanges will not be eligible for returns or exchanges for 90 days.”
BJ’s Wholesale Club
The warehouse membership club, which charges customers $50 a year to shop online or at 200 stores, mostly in the Eastern U.S., won’t accept returns of perishable products such as food and flowers. That’s in contrast to the policy at the two largest clubs, Costco and Sam’s Club, which will take back any item for any reason, usually without time limit.
Retailers typically allow 15- to 30-day returns on most televisions, though the restrictions may be tighter on returns of large-screen sets. But Fry’s policy is tougher still. “Refunds cannot be given on televisions 24 inches and larger.”
Once upon a time, merchants closed their doors on major holidays such as Thanksgiving, giving employees the day off to celebrate with family and friends. Then came Black Friday madness sales, with many chains whipping shoppers into a frenzy with doorbuster deals beginning Thanksgiving night or early Friday morning. This year, mass merchant Kmart has taken holiday shopping to a new low. The 1,200-unit mass-merchandise chain recently bragged that its stores would be open for 41 hours straight, starting at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving day through 11 p.m. Friday, making it just another marathon work day for those in the retail industry (though its parent company, Sears Holding Corp., says that stores are staffed with seasonal associates and those who volunteered to work).
Lord & Taylor
Hardly a day goes by that one department store or another doesn’t advertise the biggest blowout savings event of the year. But Lord & Taylor recently raised the hyperbole to new heights. “Save 25 percent at the ultimate one-day sale,” the ad proclaimed. But the fine print of restrictions was staggering. More than 70 brands and categories were excluded, including watches, certain jewelry, beauty products, cosmetics, women’s designer coats, fragrances, luggage and more. It makes you wonder what actually was on sale.
You’d think price transparency would be a good thing. But in the case of the home-shopping juggernaut QVC, there are so many categories of prices that it’s hard to tell whether you’re getting a great deal or a great spiel. QVC prices goods 20 different ways. For example, there’s the “QVC Price,” also known as the everyday great price, “Today’s Special Value,” a steep one-day markdown, the “Event Price,” another temporary deal, and “While Supplies Last Price,” identifying big savings on items in relatively short supply. Then there’s the “Last Clicks” category, featuring a limited quantity of leftovers priced to sell, which is not to be confused with “Clearance Price” products, whose prices have been reduced to make room for new inventory. That’s only six of the categories.
Raymour & Flanigan
Deferred-interest credit cards let customers pay for purchases interest-free for a set period. But there’s a heavy burden on borrowers who fail to pay down the entire amount by the end of the promotional period: the prevailing interest rate gets applied retroactively to the entire original balance, not just the remaining amount you owe. Raymour & Flanigan isn’t the only chain that offers deferred-interest plans. Many big players, including Apple, Walmart, and Best Buy, for instance, do, too. But the furniture chain (and the already “Naughty” Best Buy) features the option on its home page. Failure to comply with the terms would mean an APR of about 28 percent.
Toys ‘R’ Us
On the upside, Toys "R" Us last summer enhanced its in-store price-matching program to include 11 giant online competitors, including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Sears, and Amazon. On the downside, the chain has suspended its price-match policy on Black Friday, nor will it match deals advertised online during the week of Black Friday (starting Nov. 25) or on Cyber Monday (Dec. 2).
Airlines have created so many “special” or privileged customer classes that even a low-boarding number can require a substantial wait. But one thing you can usually count on is preboarding for families with young kids. Not at United. “Families with infants or with children who are under the age of 4 may board the aircraft when their group number is called.”