Unhappy returns: Beware these home and garden gotchas

Consumer Reports News: December 28, 2010 05:07 PM

 

If a little post-holiday research on our site convinced you not to give a home-related gift a permanent home, keep in mind that some retailers' return and exchange policies can be stricter for some home and garden items.

Lowe's, Sears and Home Depot require gas-powered yard equipment and power tools be returned in 30 days rather than the 90 days standard for most other products. Amazon.com won't take back products that use flammable liquids or gases, but will help arrange an exchange from the manufacturer. Sears will only exchange gas-powered lawn equipment and power tools for an identical item or similar item of equal value. Others sock you with charges to return or cancel orders on special-order items.

Major appliances also carry a lot of fine print. Lowe's will replace ones with a manufacturing defect only within seven days of delivery/purchase; afterward, you must call to arrange a factory-certified service appointment in your home. Best Buy charges a 25 percent restocking fee on appliances. Below are highlights of each store's in-store and online return and restocking policies, along with links to their full policies.

Ace Hardware
Return policy: 30 days with receipt. After 30 days, call manufacturer.
Online return policy: Within 30 days of delivery. Return online or to store for credit.
Restocking fee: For special-order products; fees vary by store.
See full refund policy.

Amazon.com
Return policy: 30 days via their online Online Returns Center. Items must be in new condition with original packaging and accessories. Consumers who had items shipped via specialty shippers must contact Amazon's Online Returns Center and request the return. We will follow up with instructions for returning the item.
Restocking fees: Returns that are not the result of an error on Amzon's part r will be subject to a return-shipping fee, which will be deducted from the refund.
See full refund policy.

Bed Bath and Beyond
Return policy:  With receipt, store refunds in the original form of payment. Without receipt, if purchased was made by credit or debit card, or check or gift card, the store may have record and refund will be in the original form of payment. Otherwise, store may issue store credit or merchandise refund request.
Online refund policy: Return item to store or online with invoice. Same return policy as in store. Prepaid-shipping label included.
Restocking fee: None.
See full refund policy.

Best Buy
Return policy: 30 days on appliances; original receipt and photo identification are required.
Online refund policy: Bring to a Best Buy store or return by mail. For delivered items such as major appliances, call 1-888-BESTBUY (1-888-237-8289).
Restocking fee: 25 percent on appliances and  special orders.
See full refund policy.

Costco
Return policy: Most products can be returned at any time, and a receipt not needed, although it speeds up the process. But computers, camcorders, cell phones, TVs, iPods, and MP3 players must be returned within 90 days.
Online refund policy: Return item to store or online. Shipping fees are refunded.
Restocking fee: None.
See full refund policy.

 

Home Depot
Return policy: With receipt, within 90 days for items returned. After 90 days, store credit or refund is applied to store credit card based on lowest selling price. Purchases made with store credit, gift certificates and gift cards will be refunded as store credit. Exceptions: Gas-powered equipment must be returned within 30 days with a receipt. After that, item can be sent out for repair at customer's expense, unless covered under warranty. Returns are not available for custom-made products and custom tinted paint, gift cards, gift certificates, store credits or utility trailers.
Online refund policy: Most items may be returned within 90 days of delivery. Excluding major appliances, items cannot be returned to stores.
Restocking fee: 15 percent for special-order returns. Cancellations of special orders may be subject to 15 percent restocking fee.
See full refund policy.

Kmart
Return policy: Within 90 days of purchase. Without receipt, manager decides whether to accept item. If return is allowed, current price applies.
Online refund policy: Within 90 days of purchase. Return item online or to stgore with original packing and receipt.
Restocking fee: None.
See full refund policy.

Lowe's 
Return policy: Within 90 days. Without receipt, credit is given for product's current value. Lowe's tries to find receipt in its databases and then issues credit in the form it was paid. Exceptions: 30 days for outdoor power equipment and electric tools, and there's a seven-day replacement policy for major appliances with manufacturing defects.
Online refund policy: Within 90 days to store or online with invoice.
Restocking fee: None.
See full refund policy.

Sears
Return policy: Within 90 days. Without receipt, manager decides whether to accept item. If return is allowed, current price applies. Exceptions: 30 days for electronics and mattresses, air conditioners and gas-powered equipment. They will extend the return period for mattresses and consumer electronics purchased between November 14 and December 11 to 60 days.
Online refund policy: Within 90 days of purchase with original packing and receipt. Return online, or most merchandise can be returned to store.
Restocking fee: 15 percent for select appliances, electronics, and home-improvement, household, lawn and garden, and automotive items not returned in original box, unused, and containing all packaging and accessories.
See full refund policy.

Target
Return policy: Within 90 days. Without receipt, store traces purchases made with credit or debit cards, checks, and if presented, gift cards.
Online refund policy: Within 90 days with receipt. Return online or to store, if item is carried in store.
Restocking fee: 15 percent but only for camcorders, digital cameras, and portable electronics that have been opened.
See full refund policy.

Walmart
Return policy: Within 90 days. Without receipt, store limits transactions:  Credit to credit card, even exchange, or cash refund for items under $25; store card for purchases over $25.
Online refund policy: Within 90 days of receiving it. Return item to store or online with invoice.
Restocking fee: None.
See full refund policy.

More in-store surprises to avoid: "5 holiday shopping traps to avoid" covers how to avoid deep discount come-ons, gift-card gotchas and extended-warranty pitches as well as more consumer-unfriendly return and restocking policies.


 


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