Costco reins in electronics returns

Consumer Reports News: March 01, 2007 10:41 AM

Costco, long known for having one of the most liberal return policies of any retailer, has tightened the reins for returns on many electronics products,  including HDTVs. As a result of the new policy, which mirrors those already in place for computers, customers will now have only 90 days to return TVs, cameras, camcorders, iPods and other MP3 players, and cell phones.

Until the change, Costco had a open-ended return policy that allowed customers to return most electronics at any time. However, it is believed that the rapid and aggressive price drops on some consumer electronics items, particularly flat-panel TVs, left the company's liberal return policy open to abuse.

Perhaps in an effort to offset the new, tighter return restrictions, the company has rolled out free technical support for all the items covered by the new policy — plus computers — via Costco Concierge Services, and is extending the manufacturer's warranty on TVs and computers by two years. Customers purchasing items from either a Costco store or can call the toll-free Concierge Services number at 1-866-861-0450 to receive either technical support or warranty service.

The company also announced a new in-home TV set-up service, priced at a flat rate of $89.99. The service does not include wall-mounting, however.

— James K. Willcox

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