Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Black Friday return policies for morning-after retail regret
Got a keytar instead of a keyboard? Worry about it in January.
Liz Lemon may have re-branded it “stride of pride,” but most of us are familiar with the unsettling sensation of subsequently regretting a wild night out. But “morning after regret” is hardly limited to drunken partying: With so many stores now opening on Thursday evening for Black Friday deals and patrons pulling Starbucks-addled all-nighters to pull down the big savings, a bit of buyer’s remorse is a foregone conclusion.
What should you do if your text history is full of "you ought to see the seat on this lawn mower" missives or when the chenille afghan you bought for your impossible mother-in-law reveals a Hello Kitty emblazoned across its heretofore rolled-up middle? Know ahead of time which stores will be more forgiving than others when it comes to holiday season return policies.
Kohl's -- Known for its remarkable returns policies year ‘round, Kohl’s is your best friend when contact-sport consumerism goes awry. They’ve even provided a tool for preemptive strategizing where you can preview early bird deals and create a personalized list. Online shopping opens Wednesday at 3 p.m., and stores open at midnight on Thanksgiving Day. But, even if your best laid plans fail, Kohl’s offers “hassle-free returns … on any item, anytime for any reason.”
Wal-Mart -- Forget midnight: Wal-Mart is going Bubonic this year, opening doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. In fact, you might as well just skip the turkey, find a location with an attached grocery, and eat Cheetos over your cart while ramming it into slowpoke elderly patrons. Well, you can't return the Cheetos, but according to the corporate site, many non-digested items can be returned as such: Most items can be returned up to 90 days with a receipt and most items with a window normally shorter than 90 days will be extended. Some items, like electronics, have a 15 day window, but if they are purchased between November 1 and December 24, that brief window starts not from the date of purchase, but on December 26, so that recipients have time to talk back the DVD they did too ask for but later forgot they wanted.
Best Buy -- Don't expect the Geek Squad to be able to explain or debug the Best Buy seasonal return policy. Below are some Cliff's Notes, but just assume that all rules are out when you actually arrive at the return desk; each department has its own time limits and many items are non-returnable. Gift purchases made between November 4 and December 24 may be returned through January 24; standard policies including “non-returnable items” and “photo identification required” apply; carrier contracts for mobile phones and other third party service provides (e.g. DirecTV contracts) do not qualify for the holiday gift policy; Geek Squad Protection/Trade-In Plus plans returned after 30 days from date of purchase will be refunded at a pro-rated amount; no restocking fees; when a promotional item is returned, the value of the promotional item will be deducted from the refund amount. So there.
Target -- Notorious for its mind-blowing, weirdo $70 rule, Target's on a lot of shoppers' spit-list. The standard return policy gives you a 90 day window with receipt and all black Friday returns refunded at the clearance price, with a 15% restocking fee applied to some electronics.
Not bad, right? Oh, but it gets specific in a hurry. The following items must be returned within 30 days: computers, netbooks, laptops, eReaders, tablets, cameras, camcorders, digital audio players, GPS systems, video game hardware, personal DVD players, and no-contract cell phones. For these items purchased between November 1 and December 25, the 30-day refund period will start on December 26. Holiday items, limited-time only collections, and contract cell phones may have modified return policies.
Items from the Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection must be returned by January 5, 2013. Target will only accept collection items purchased at Target stores or Target.com.
Oh, and this: It doesn't matter what you paid for an item. You're only getting back the current price.
Amazon -- You look like a smart one. You're going to get this all done with your Prime account, while watching the Macy's parade? While dabbing at dribbled cranberry sauce on your sweatpants? We salute you, internet shopper. Just be sure to air-blow the crumbs out of the keyboard while you're shopping Amazon's Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Your reward for intellectual prowess: Items shipped by amazon.com between November 1 and December 31 may be returned until January 31 for a full refund, subject to other return guidelines.