Give (Or Get) Gifts From These Stores — They Have Stellar Return Policies

Photo: Kevin Schafer/Getty Images.
You're probably focused right about now on simply getting through that gift list in time (and in one piece). But we know that once every last present has been unwrapped, odds are — whether you're the giver or the receiver — there will be a nice stack of returns to sort through. That's why GOBankingRates looked into one of the most important (although sometimes overlooked) considerations of the season: how retailers rank in terms of return policies.

In its annual survey, the personal finance website judged 31 contenders — all major retailers GOBankingRates considers to be major players during the holiday season — on four terms of their return policies. The site took into account the time frame, need for a receipt, condition of an item, and if the retailer has a longer grace period around the holidays for returns. Once the data was crunched, Nordstrom came in first, thanks, essentially, to its utter lack of a traditional return policy. "We handle returns on a case-by-case basis with the ultimate objective of satisfying the customer," according to the department store's website. This means there isn't a set window for returns, no need for a receipt, and no stress if you've already removed the tags (except for special occasion dresses). The Seattle-based retailer also got a nod on GOBankingRates' 2014 list.

L.L. Bean, which scored a top customer service honor this year, came in second. The outdoor company likens its return policy to a handshake: You enter an agreement where L.L. Bean trusts you'll love its product. If anything you buy (or get) doesn't live up to your expectations, the brand will work to make it better. "If your purchase isn't completely satisfactory, we're happy to accept your exchange or return at any time for items purchased directly from us," the brand's returns page reads. You don't need a receipt — the only difference is that with a receipt, you can get a full reimbursement for the original purchase price; if you come to them without one, you can either replace the item in question or receive a gift card for its current selling price.

JCPenney
, Macy's, and Kohl's also secured spots in this year's top 10. Zappos also scored well, due to its clear (free) three-step return guide: Items can be sent back in their original packaging within 365 days of purchase, according to GOBankingRates, which gives you plenty of time to really decide if you're ever going to wear it. And as for the five worst return policies around? Forever 21 topped GOBankingRates' list, thanks to its rigid 21-days-or-less policy, which only allows for exchanges or store credit only, even with a receipt. Sears and Kmart also got called out for their underwhelming policies.

You might want to adjust your present-purchasing strategy accordingly. According to a study by the National Retail Federation, two-thirds of giftees returned some of their holiday presents last year. All the more reason to check those return policies as you power through (...or perhaps only start to compile) that holiday shopping list.

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