Some stores shorten window for holiday returns, track your returns
Now that the holiday shopping is done and all the presents have been opened, millions of people will be heading back to the store for returns, refunds and exchanges. But at least three big companies have made holiday returns more challenging this year.
Sears shortened its return window for major appliances and vacuums, from 60 days down to 30 days.
Toys-R-Us reduced the timeframe for returning electronics from 45 days to 30 days. Computer hardware items must be returned within 15 days, and some opened items cannot be returned at all.
Best Buy tightened up its holiday return policy, too. Instead of 30 days, you now get only 21 days to return your holiday gifts.
Stores like Best Buy are also tracking customers' returns. Some of the nation's largest retailers have started collecting information on consumers and are creating "return profiles" to monitor what you're taking back. Best Buy, JC Penney, Victoria's Secret, Home Depot and Nike are among those companies.
This year many retailers are implementing re-stocking fees, especially for electronics and items that have already been opened.
And to cut down on "wardrobing" – buying an item and then returning it after one use or wearing – stores like Express, Bloomingdales and Macys are requiring dresses to be returned with their tags intact.
Not all stores are making it harder to return your holiday gifts.
Costco still offers a generous 90 days to return all TVs, computers, cameras and other electronics, and it will take back all other items for any reason for a full refund.
Kohl's has retained its "No Questions Asked" return policy for all purchases with no time restrictions.
And Target is making returns easier by allowing customers to print out a shipping label for free returns on items bought online.
Customers who are returning holiday gifts are encouraged to provide a purchase or gift receipt, when possible, and to return items with all included tags, parts and components. Some stores, even those with liberal return policies, are now declining to return items that are missing original parts.
ConsumerWorld.org offers a helpful piece that summarizes many retailers' current return policies.