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Retailers tighten return policies

You might have less time to return unwanted gifts

Published: December 20, 2013 06:00 PM

When buying holiday gifts over the next few days, you might want to verify retailer return policies, just in case they’ve changed from when you last shopped.

In its latest annual return-policy survey, Consumer World reports that while most retailers’ return policies have remained the same since last year, some have changed. Best Buy, Sears, and Toys "R" Us, for example, have decreased the amount of time you have to return at least some items. Other stores have made some items nonreturnable or imposed new restocking fees.  

Consumer World also mentions some unusual polices, such as the 30-day return policy at OfficeMax, which excludes refunds on items the store no longer stocks. And the site lists 14 retailers whose policies it consider generous, including  Kohl's, Target, and Walmart.

Remember, many stores extend their return periods during the holidays, letting you or your gift recipient take items back in January or beyond. So be sure to check. But don’t assume a retailer’s return policy is the same online as in its walk-in store. For advice on what to look for in a return policy, read our story “Be a Return-Friendly Gift Giver This Holiday.”

And if you receive a holiday gift that you want to return, read “5 Tips for Easy Returns of Unwanted Holiday Gifts” for advice on what to consider.

—Anthony Giorgianni

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