That $50 pair of gold wedge espadrilles from Zappos that you never wore but also never managed to return drives you crazy. But don’t think you’re stuck.
Zappos allows returns for up to 12 months after the original purchase date. And it’s not the only retailer that will accept returns up to a year or more after the items were purchased.
Knowing a seller’s return policy can help you turn unreturned items into cash or merchandise credit equal to what you paid. Also, whether you’re shopping online or buying an item in a store, knowing which retailers offer hassle free returns and free return shipping will help you save money on future purchases.
When you give something as a present, include the gift receipt and a note telling the recipient how long they have to return the item. This is a nice way of saying your feelings won’t be hurt if it is returned. (Keep this in mind during the holiday season just a few months away.)
And keep these retailers in mind when you shop all year round.
Stores that Offer a Full Refund for a Year or More
The clothing retailer that’s especially beloved by teens has a return policy that’s beloved by all customers. There’s no time limit with proof of purchase to return unwashed or unworn items even without tags.
Without a receipt American Eagle will give a store credit for the item’s current selling price.
Costco’s return policy is the stuff of urban legends. A 15-year-old pressure cooker. A dead Christmas tree in January. A safe smelling of marijuana.The stories of items returned to Costco are all over the Internet, though it’s hard to know if they’re all true.
But it’s easy to know the retail giant’s return policy. There’s no time limit for returning most items. Even opened food can be returned for a full refund.
There are a few exceptions. Premium electronics must be returned within 90 days and there are limitations on tires, cigarettes, alcohol and diamonds.
Unopened IKEA merchandise can be returned within a year. Opened products can be returned within 180 days. Without a receipt, you will be provided a refund in the form of an in-store credit for the item’s lowest selling price.
And check out IKEA’s new buy back program for gently used items that’s part of it’s goal to become fully carbon neutral by 2030. It will offer 30% to 50% of the original price of products in gift cards based on their condition. You can use the retailer’s estimator to find out what your item might bring then take it to the nearest store.
L.L.Bean is another retailer in the 12-month return policy club. Even after a year, if your product is defective due to how it’s made, it can also be considered for a return.
Nordstrom has always been known as a retailer that will accept returns long after the purchase date. It doesn’t state a set time on its website, but says each return is a case by case basis and it strives to make customers happy.
So, basically, ask nicely and they will probably give you a refund or Nordstrom gift card depending on if you have your receipt.
Nordstrom Rack, however, states items must be returned within 45 days.
There’s no limit, even beyond a year, for how long you can return items purchased at Patagonia for a full refund. Even stuff bought on sale.
Items returned beyond a year will be refunded with a merchandise credit.
Another outdoors clothing and gear retailer, REI allows items to be returned for up to a year with your receipt. Without a valid receipt you will get a store credit for the lowest selling price of the item.
In an effort to reduce landfill waste, REI will take back gently used gear in exchange for gift cards or store credit. It then sells that used gear. Those purchases must be returned within 45 days.
It’s not surprising Trader Joe’s, one of the happiest grocery stores on Earth, has a very generous return policy. It offers refunds on everything in the store, with or without a receipt, even if it’s been opened. You can get an exchange or merchandise credit or your money back.
Listen up when you’re shopping, and you’ll often overhear salespeople suggesting customers try an item they are debating because they can always return it.
Zappos has been a favorite among shoppers for its free shipping and free return shipping long before other retailers offered the same.
It allows one year for returns for those times you bought the wrong shoes online. Some customers even report returning never-worn shoes beyond a year for a merchandise credit.
Other Stores with the Best Return Policies
These stores require you to return your items within a year, but there are other reasons they make our list.
Athleta, like other Gap brands, has a return window of 90 days. But the exercise clothing retailer makes the list because of its Give-It-a-Workout-Guarantee. Customers can actually wear clothes for a workout (or even a trip to the mall) and if they don’t like how they feel or perform, return them for a full refund.
Bath & Body Works
The sweet-scented store also has a 90-day return policy. It makes our list because Bath & Body Works lets customers return even opened products, a.k.a. used products, for a full refund for 90 days with a receipt.
Without a sales receipt, you can get a merchandise credit based on the lowest selling price of the product.
The home improvement retailer allows 90 days to return unopened products, though customers with a Home Depot credit card or commercial account have a year. There are a few exceptions such as major appliances and area rugs.
But here’s what we love about the store’s return policy: It lets you return opened paint if it ends up on your walls and you decide you don’t like the color. Exchange it for something you like more.
And wait, there’s more. Customers have one year to return trees and shrubs.
The makeup giant lets customers return opened and gently used products within 30 days for a store credit. So go ahead and take a risk on that midnight blue eye shadow or metallic mascara.
Walgreens has a pretty standard 30-day return policy. But it also allows returns on open makeup. Most stores also have a makeup consultant to help you pick your colors. But again, you can try it a few times and return if you don’t love it.
The longtime online retailer allows 90 days for returns, except those that are a final sale.
But Land’s End, which has become a retailer for hundreds of school uniforms across the country, offers an extra perk for busy parents trying to get their kids in the right gear.
You can return uniforms that are personalized with your school’s logo for a Lands End merchandise credit.
That really comes in handy if you’re ordering multiple shirts for multiple kids.
Turn Store Credit or Merchandise Credit into Cash
If you end up with gift cards because you returned something without a receipt, you can still ultimately end up with cash. Depending on where you sell it, it’s possible to get 85% of the gift card value in cash.
So that means, a gift card for those black pumps from Zappo’s can become cash to buy premium electronics at Costco.
Here’s where to read the fine print about selling your gift cards.
Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer at Codetic.