Once the excitement of the holiday gift-giving has passed, the chore of returning or exchanging items that weren't quite right begins. There are plenty of options on what you can do with your unwanted present, such as re-gifting or selling it on eBay; but the traditional route is to return it and that is where it can get tricky.
Each store has a different return policy, but most require original or gift receipts. For gifts ordered online, keep the original box the item was shipped in, as well as all packing materials and invoices. The table below breaks down the basics of the policies of major retailers. The amount of time each retailer allows items to be returned and restrictions varies from store to store, so we've included a link to each store's return policies for additional information.
|Holiday return policy ||Special notes|
|Amazon.com || |
Items purchased and shipped between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 may be returned until Jan. 31, 2012.
Additional restrictions apply on some items.
|Overstock.com || |
Items bought between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 may be returned unopened within 30 days of delivery or by January 31st, 2012, whichever is later.
Other conditions fall under standard return policy.
|Zappos.com ||365 days for returns for any reason. Merchandise must be in original condition and packaging.|
Return shipping is free.
|Online or in store purchases can be returned within 90 days with receipt and in original condition/packaging. Items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 have an extended return period with the countdown beginning on Dec. 26.||Additional exclusions may apply. See store policy for details.|
|Sears ||Return item with original receipt and in original packaging within 90 days of purchase. Some items, such as appliances, are subject to a restocking fee.|
Items purchased on Sears.com may be sold by third parties and the return policies may vary.
|Best Buy ||Holiday gifts that are purchased can be returned or exchanged between November 13, 2001 and January 4, 2012. Best Buy announced that there would be no exclusions on returns during these dates.|
The restocking fee, even on special orders, has also been removed.
|Barnes and Noble || |
Items must be returned in original condition and packaging within 14 days for refunds. Marketplace items can be returned within 30 days, but the return shipping address may vary.
|Shipping charges not refunded.|
|Toys R Us || |
Returns with original receipt within 90 days of purchase. Items purchased online may be returned via mail or store within 90 days.
|Some items have a 45-day return policy. See return policy.|
|Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic||Items purchased online can be exchanged for the matching store's gift card within 45 days or mailed back for a refund.||Exceptions apply to some items.|
|Office Depot||Item may be returned in original condition and packaging within 30 days for office supplies and 14 days for furniture and electronics. If components are missing, a restocking fee applies.||See policy for details on which items are included in the 14-day return window.|
|Cooking.com||Refunds within 60 days, merchandise credit after.||Shipping charges apply.|
|Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma||Returns with original receipt for 90 days for online and in store purchases; merchandise credit for 90 days with gift receipt.||Limitations apply.|
|Apple||Very strict policy that only allows returns in the case of a shipping error within 30 days.||Follow guidelines carefully for shipping error returns.|
|Target||90 day return period for most items. Online purchases may be returned by mail or to a Target store.||Additional restrictions.|
|Staples||Most items purchased between Nov. 13 and Dec. 24 may be returned until Jan. 8, 2012.||Some restrictions.|
|Office Max||Return office supplies within 30 days; return furniture and electronics within 14 days.||Must have receipt for refund or will be issued a merchandise credit.|
|J Crew||Store purchases may be returned within 30 days in original condition. Online purchases may be returned within 60 days.||Additional restrictions.|
|Kohl's||Items purchased online or in-store can be returned with original receipt at any time. Kohl's will also take back items without a receipt and issue a corporate refund, merchandise exchange or store gift card.||Some restrictions apply.|
|JCPenney||Refund/exchange within 90 days of purchase with receipt. Free return shipping.||Some exceptions apply. See return policy for details.|
|L.L.Bean||Online and in-store purchases may be returned with a pre-paid postage label printed from the website or to an L.L. Bean store.||None|