Study: Costco has best return policy, Sears the worst - FOX 10 News |

Study: Costco has best return policy, Sears the worst

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According to the National Retail Federation, nearly $60 billion worth of holiday merchandise was returned last January. But that doesn't mean it's easy to return those holiday gifts.

Personal finance site investigated the return policies of leading U.S. retailers and created a list of the best and worst stores for handling returns. The best? Costco. It has brick-and-mortar locations and a website for purchases, but the company encourages simple returns in-store at no additional cost. While a purchase receipt is ideal for returning merchandise, returns can be conducted with just the membership number used to buy the gift at some locations.

The worst? Sears, where the standard return policy is structured on a tiered system, in which certain products have a 90-day, 60-day or 30-day window to submit a return. Required in the transaction is the original packaging and original receipt or packaging slip. Each return window has a list of items eligible for return, which makes the entire process of returning merchandise very convoluted.

Stores with the Worst Return Policies

No. 1 - Sears
Return time based on a tiered system with 90-day maximum; original packaging, receipt or packaging slip required.

No. 2 - Best Buy
Return time frames vary depending on the customer's annual spending; for those who spent $1,500, the time frame is just 30 days.

No. 3 - American Apparel
Returns are not accepted at an American Apparel store; they must be mailed in.

Stores with the Best Return Policies

No. 1 - Costco
Costco's return policy has no return time limit; full refunds take the form of cash or check.

No. 2 - Nordstrom
No formal return policy exists; returns handled on a case-to-case basis as long as Nordstrom carries the product. No specific time limit.

No. 3 - Zappos
Returns accepted up to one year after purchase with free shipping.

No. 4 - REI
No. 5 - Walmart
No. 6 - Target

Click here to see the complete ranking of store return policies.

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