L.L. Bean has long been known for its lifetime return policy, which it ended just this past February. But don’t despair. The company is still offering an amazing policy that most people are pretty happy about! The store now offers a still-generous one-year window for returns.
L.L. Bean ended its legendary lifetime return policy to clamp down on customers who were taking advantage and using it to replace heavily worn products.
“Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers have been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for even heavily worn products used over many years,” the company wrote announcing the policy changes to customers.
I spent so many years (over 39!) in the retail environment that I can personally verify that some people out there do abuse return policies to the point that it has to be “built” into the retail price these days to cover for what stores must throw away that was returned for bogus reasons.
All retailers know that there are legit reasons for a return even of a worn, used item. But they also know that satisfying a customer and keeping them happy is less costly that the cost of getting new customers. That’s why a company like L.L. Bean still has an ultra-liberal return policy, that and complete faith that they sell true quality items that are not going to disappoint.
And they are not alone—a whole host of U.S. retailers offer customers incredible return policies. Here’s a list of 19 of my favorite retailers and online companies that give you a great return policy to insure your satisfaction!
19 Retailers with the Best Return Policy
Costco has one of the most generous return policies of any store. Any product can be returned to Costco warehouses for any reason. The only restrictions are on electronics, which must be returned within 90 days.
Ikea gives customers a 365-day return window for a full refund unless the product in question is a mattress, which can only be exchanged once. Given that a year is a long time to hold onto a receipt, the store can also help you out by searching for an order using your credit- or debit-card number.
Mattress startup Casper offers a 100-day window to trial its mattresses. The best part of the return policy is that it imposes no hassle on the customer. The company will come and collect the product from your home and donate it to a charity.
Athleta has its own return policy that far outshines its sister companies Gap and Old Navy. Customers here are given the chance to work out in products, and if they don’t like them, they can return them any time after.
Trader Joe’s will give a full refund on its private-label products. If a customer purchases a product and is dissatisfied, they can take it back to the store in exchange for a full refund.
Nordstrom doesn’t have a return policy, per se. Each return is settled on a case-by-case basis, and there are no time limits on when you can return a product. I can assure you that in 99.9% of all cases, the return is granted.
Kohl’s will take back any item at any time. Customers can make returns in-store or via mail. If you lose the receipt but paid with a store card or credit card, they can look up your order directly.
CVS beauty products
CVS will take back any beauty product purchase, even if it’s opened, no questions asked. It has the same policy in place for CVS/pharmacy brand products.
Eddie Bauer is so confident that customers will be pleased with its products, that it offers an unconditional lifetime return policy. The concept was created by its founder many years ago and has stuck to this day.
Bed Bath & Beyond
Bed Bath & Beyond gets my personal seal of approval! I rate their customer service policies as the best (and wrote about that before). Provided it’s within a year, you don’t even need a receipt to return products at Bed Bath & Beyond. The store will track down your item using credit-card details or order numbers.
Online shoe retailer Zappos gives its customers plenty of time to make a decision. Its return policy allows customers to get a full refund within 365 days, providing the product has not been worn and is still in its original packaging.
To prevent customers from draining a tube of foundation in a month and then trying to return it in-store, Sephora stipulates that returns must be in “new or gently used condition”. You can get a full refund on your card if you return the item within 60 days, and if it reaches up to 90 days, then you can get a store credit.
Land’s End’s return policy is as good as it gets. You can return any item at any time, provided you have the receipt.
Macy’s has toughened up its return policy recently. What was a 365-day return window has been cut down to 180 days, which still gives customers ample time to get a refund if they so choose. There’s one exception to the rule: the department store does not allow customers to return products from its “Last Act” clearance sections beyond 30 days.
Bath & Body Works
Bath & Body Works has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. “We just want you to love it,” the company writes on its Facebook page. You can return or exchange any of its products at any time.
J.C. Penney offers full returns with no time limit in most states and will reimburse you in your original form of payment if you have a receipt. No receipt, you’ll get a merchandise voucher for the lowest selling price of that item within the last 45 days. There are additional restrictions on furniture, fine jewelry, appliances, small electronics, and other categories.
Wal-Mart accepts returns within 90 days of purchase, but you don’t need a receipt if you do the return in a store. Without a receipt, you’ll get an even exchange, a cash refund, or a Wal-Mart gift card, depending on the amount of the purchase. Wal-Mart’s policy has some restrictions on returns of electronics and “regulated items” such as groceries and home goods.
Bloomingdale’s is another department store with an accommodating return policy. For most items, you have 365 days to make a return. If you don’t have a receipt and they can’t look up the purchase on your Bloomingdale’s account, you’ll receive the lowest selling price from the past 180 days. Some categories have restrictions as well. For example, mattresses can only be returned within five years and are subject to a fee.
Granted, REI is a special kind of store for a special type of person—namely, the outdoorsy, highly-active, let’s-go-camping-and-white-water-rafting kind of person. Nonetheless, this store has one of the best return policies of any retailer. You may return or exchange your purchases at any REI store or through mail order any time, for any reason. Even better, you don’t need a receipt because the store keeps a record of all your purchases.
It’s always my advice to check out a store or online site’s return policy before you make a purchase. If you don’t, you may find that some stores are not as friendly as the ones listed here.
There’s a lot of fine print in each store’s policy online. Retailers do not have to accept returns as long as they “tell” you at the point of purchase (often posted or written on their receipts).
An app like Slice can help you record your online purchases and keep track of your receipts in case you need to make any returns or exchanges.
When you shop, how much does a return policy influence your decision? Have you ever had a problem making a return because of a retailer’s policy?