Money Monday: Check Store Return Policies Before Buying

Every January, we receive emails from people saying they tried to return something and couldn't, so we thought it was so important to talk about this right before the holiday shopping season.

The mother of one of our producers had a return case that should make all of us check the return policies before we buy.

Jocelyn Caldwell wanted a great dress for her son's wedding. She ordered it online and it didn't fit. But when she tried to return the dress, she got an unwelcome surprise.

"They do not make refunds unless they made a mistake," she said they told her. "I gave them the size that I wanted and so, since I did that, they would not refund. It was my fault." told Caldwell they could give her a 10 percent refund — about $10. Plus, she'd have to pay to ship the dress back to China. An email from the company to Caldwell said that if that didn't work for her, "We suggest you keep the dress or resell it to your friends as a gift."

The return policy is right on the website, stating: "All returns must let our customer support know within 24 hours" and must be made "within 3 days."

The policy suggests if an item doesn't fit, "You can go to a local tailor or a professional seamstress." That would be at your expense. If you do get a full refund from the company, it "does not include the shipping and handling cost."

"It never dawned on me that I needed to read the return policy, but I will now," Caldwell said.

The Better Business Bureau of Ft. Worth's Lindsey Hasse said that's good advice. Some stores only honor returns for a certain time, some charge restocking fees and some only offer store credit.

"Just knowing ahead of time...can really save you a lot of headaches," she said.

Caldwell said she never would have ordered the dress had she known she couldn't return it, but she has kept her sense of humor as she wonders what to do with a dress she'll never be able to wear.

"I don't know. Do you want it?" she said. "I'll sell it cheap."

We contacted No one from the company sent us a statement, but they reached out to Caldwell to offer her a 50 percent refund — about $50. She'd still have to pay shipping.

So check the return policy before you buy. The company clearly followed its return policy in Caldwell's case, but if they don't, file complaints with the BBB, the Attorney General and As a last resort, consider disputing the charge with your credit card.

We've compiled a list of return policies from some of the popular stores where you might shop:


As an added convenience for customers, Wal-Mart has adjusted its return policy for the holiday gift buying season for items that have a limited return/exchange period (15 days, 30 days, etc.). For these items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, the limited return period will begin Dec. 26. This includes items such as TVs, cameras, computers, DVD and music players that can have a 15-30 day return period.


Most unopened items in new condition and returned within 90 days will receive a refund or exchange. Some items have a modified return policy noted on the receipt, Target policy board (refund exceptions), or in the item department. Items that are opened or damaged or do not have a receipt may be denied a refund or exchange.

To return a gift you received that was purchased on

  • Visit the manage returns page.
  • Click return a gift.
  • Enter the following information:
    • order number
    • email address of the person returning the item
    • release ID from your packing slip
  • Click continue.

Once you've entered this information, follow the steps to start your return. Choose the reason for return, then select your choice among the different ways you may return the item. Gift receipts allow recipients of gifts to receive Target Gift Card refunds when they return the items. If you make a return on for a gift you received, you'll receive the refund as a Target eGiftCard.


  • Bring your receipt with the item(s) to be returned and a full refund will be given in the original form of payment.
  • If you do not have proof of purchase, credit will be issued in the form of a "Happy Returns" Gift Card for the item's lowest selling price within the last 180 days.
  • Bring your invoice and the item(s) to be returned to a Macy's store for a refund which will be given in the original form of payment.
  • If you do not have your invoice, you may print your order confirmation email and present to a store associate for a refund.

Best Buy

For your convenience, we offer an extended return and exchange policy during the holiday season. Purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015, have an extended return period through Jan. 15, 2016. Excluded items include cell phones and devices with a carrier contract, and AppleCare and Geek Squad® Protection plans returned without a product. All other terms and conditions of our Return & Exchange Promise apply.

Toys 'R' Us

Those who want to start their holiday shopping early can do so worry-free knowing that Toys"R"Us will offer an extended return policy after Christmas.

Items purchased on or after Sept. 1, 2015, can be returned through Jan. 23, 2016, with by a sales or gift receipt or online packing slip. Select Electronics & Entertainment items (computer hardware, such as eReaders, netbooks and tablets) purchased on or after Nov. 1, 2015, can be returned or exchanged until Jan. 9, 2016. Video game hardware, personal DVD players, digital cameras, camcorders, digital audio players, no-contact cell phones and baby monitors purchased on or after Nov. 1, 2015, may be returned or exchanged until Jan. 23, 2016. For more information on returns, please visit


Kohl's return policy gives customers a quick, convenient and "no-questions-asked" experience. Customers returning merchandise with receipts or items purchased with Kohl's Charge cards are eligible to receive full refunds or even exchanges, while customers without a receipt will receive a Kohl's merchandise credit.

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