Guidelines for Gift Returns

ScienceHolidaysServices and ShoppingComputers and SoftwareOffice Depot Inc.Amazon.com Inc.Overstock.com Incorporated

HOLIDAY RETURN POLICIES• Best Buy lengthened its holiday return period for most items by one to three weeks until January 31, but computers still only have their standard 14-day return period. That means it is already too late to return any PC bought on Black Friday. • Target now allows gifts to be exchanged without a receipt, as long as the total of such un-receipted returns does not exceed $70 in a year. Merchandise can also be exchanged without a receipt for something else in the same department of equal or greater value. • Wal-mart added an extended holiday return period for items normally subject to its shorter 15/30/45 day return period, such as computers and cameras. Now those return periods first begin to run on December 26, rather than from the purchase date (November 15 or after). • Sears doubled its holiday return period for electronics, software and mattresses to 60 days. • Office Depot added a formal extended holiday return period until January 9. Unusual Policies: • Amazon.com has 29 different product-specific return policies in addition to its regular one. • Macy's affixes a customer return label to goods so a receipt is not necessary most times. • JC Penney requires special occasion dresses to be returned with the "return tag" still in place. (This thwarts buyers from "wardrobing" - buying/returning after a one-time wearing.) • Overstock.com has up to a 60% restocking fee for some open, used, or late items. • At Wal-mart: "In the event that a customer has returned more than three items without receipts within a 45-day period, the cash register system will automatically flag the transaction, and a customer service manager or member of management must approve the return. These cash register messages will remain for six months and will disappear if there are no more returns during that time period." • Office Max will not accept returns of opened cameras and software, unless defective.

Some retailers have relaxed their regular return deadlines by extending the return period into January. Below are some chains with generous regular or holiday return deadlines:

Amazon.comJan. 31 for most items shipped 11/01 through 12/31. 15% restocking fee on open computers; Other restocking fees up to 50% apply for opened DVDs, software, worn books, etc.

Best BuyJanuary 31 for most purchases Nov. 1 or later; Computers: only 14 days from purchase for in-store buyers, from receipt for web buyers. 15% restocking fees on certain opened items.

Buy.comJanuary 31 for goods shipped November 22 to December 31.

CostcoNo deadline, but 90 days for TVs, computers, cameras, port. music players, cell, projectors.

Kohl'sNo deadline (with receipt)

Macy's180 days from purchase; 10% restocking fee on furniture, mattresses.

MarshallsJanuary 4 for purchases Oct. 25 - Dec. 4.

Office DepotJan. 9 for technology/furn. purchased Nov. 22 or later; office supplies: later of 1/9 or 1/24.

Overstock.comJanuary 31 for most items purchased Nov. 1 or later. Fees apply if opened, used, or late.

Sears120 days for most items bought 11/14-12/13; 60 days for electronics, "software", beds; 15% restocking fee on electronics if missing items, built-in appliances, and certain special orders.

StaplesNo deadline for office supplies. January 9 for electronics & furniture bought since Nov. 27

TJ MaxxJanuary 4 for purchases Oct. 25 - Dec. 5.

Target90 days from purchase. 15% restocking fee on portable electronics, digital cameras, camcorders; specially marked clearance items only qualify for current sale price.

Toys R Us90 days most items. 45 days for unopened electronics, video games, DVDs, more; if opened, identical exchange only. Online extended holiday return deadline: January 15 for purchases November 1 onward. Some restocking fees apply to ToysRUs.com purchases.

Wal-Mart90 days. For purchases made from November 15 on, 15 days (PCs, port players, GPS), 30 days (cameras), or 45 days (PC accessories) but count days starting on December 26.

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