5 On Your Side

Companies make naughty, nice list for return policies

Posted December 23, 2013

Just as Santa knows who’s been naughty or nice, Consumer Reports has released its annual list of the best and worse places for holiday returns.

Amazon, with $61 billion in annual sales, made the naughty list.

"To get free shipping, you have to spend $35. It used to be $25,” said Tod Marks, senior projects editor for Consumer Reports.

There’s free shipping with no minimum if you sign up for Amazon Prime, but that costs $79 dollars a year.

BJ's Wholesale Club is also on the naughty list for not accepting returns of perishables such as food or flowers (Costco and Sam's Club do).

Best Buy tightened their in-store return policy to require customers to have a “valid photo ID” along with their receipt.

That sounds reasonable, but there’s a catch.

"Best Buy retains the right to take information from your ID and store it in their database to track future return patterns,” Marks said. “They also retain the right to freeze you out from making returns for up to 90 days."

Among those on the nice list is the easy return policy of Lands’ End.

"It has an unconditional guarantee,” Marks said. “You can return any item, at any time, for any reason. And that extends to even monogrammed items."

Bed Bath and Beyond is also on the nice list. If you bought something just before it went on sale, they'll match the sales price - as long as it's within two weeks of purchase.

For travelers, Hampton Inn and Suites made the nice list for a promise displayed at the front desk - "if you're not satisfied, we don't expect you to pay."

Southwest Airlines is also nice for not charging a fee to switch your reservation.

"You just have to pay the difference in cost between fares,” Marks said. “Now many other airlines charge a penalty for that, and the penalty can be several hundred dollars."

3 Comments

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  • cammied1 Dec 27, 9:02 a.m.

    The best way to avoid return fees is only buy it if you need it, don't impulse buy !!!

  • brandiisneed Dec 26, 3:18 p.m.

    I don't see an issue with Best Buy's policy. Returned items typically have to be marked down so they company loses money. Also, a good amount of the returns were never paid for in the first place.

  • GravyPig Dec 24, 2:33 p.m.

    "Amazon, with $61 billion in annual sales, made the naughty list.

    "To get free shipping, you have to spend $35. It used to be $25,” said Tod Marks, senior projects editor for Consumer Reports."

    Heaven forbid a company change their prices. It's not like they lied to you, they tell you up front what it will cost.