Take It Back!
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The 12 Best and Worst Return Policies at Popular Stores

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Take It Back!
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Take It Back!

Ever decided that it's less of a hassle to keep an unwanted purchase than it is to try and return it? You're not alone. More than half of us have done that, according to a Marist poll. To make your holiday shopping (and inevitable post-holiday returns) a little easier, take note of these stores with particularly generous or stingy return policies. For more details and more of your favorite stores, check out our guide to return policies for the country's top retailers.

Best: Bath & Body Works
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Best: Bath & Body Works

Anytime
When it comes to returns, Bath & Body Works' policy is pretty darn hard to top: "We just want you to love it! Return anything, anytime for any reason. 100% Guaranteed." If you don't have a receipt or gift receipt, you can exchange the item or receive store credit. One not-so-nice exception: The retailer no longer offers free return shipping.

Best: Costco
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Best: Costco

Anytime
It's no secret that Costco members are fiercely loyal, and one reason is the retailer's generous return policy. Costco promises "risk-free" returns, allowing customers to bring back many items whenever they want. Return shipping for online purchases is complimentary too. There are a couple of caveats, the most noteworthy being a 90-day window for returning electronics and major appliances. That's still a relatively long time when compared with other major retailers.

Related: 30 Holiday Gift Bargains From Costco

Best: Nordstrom
Nordstrom/Facebook

Best: Nordstrom

Anytime
The Seattle-based department store keeps its return policy simple: "We handle returns on a case-by-case basis with the ultimate objective of making our customers happy." That's it. No time windows or other major exceptions. And the retailer offers free return shipping for online purchases. No receipt? You can get store credit with a valid photo I.D.

Related: 24 Gifts Under $100 From Nordstrom, Neiman's, and Other Luxury Stores

Best: L.L.Bean
LLBeanFreeportStore/Facebook

Best: L.L.Bean

365 days
L.L.Bean angered a lot of longtime customers when it rescinded its lifetime guarantee a few years back, but its return policy is still pretty darn liberal: a whole year to send back unwanted merchandise. Defective items may be considered for return or refund even after one year. If you've got an L.L.Bean Mastercard, you get free return shipping, too. Hang on to that receipt, though. L.L.Bean doesn't do returns or exchanges without one anymore.

Zappos!
Zappos! by Robert Stinnett (CC BY)

Best: Zappos

365 days
Customers have a whole year to decide whether those shoes really are worth it or not, according to Zappos' return policy. Return shipping is free, but items must be unworn and have security tags still attached. For a gift return, you have to call the company at (800) 927-7671 before sending the item back.

Best: Kohl's
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Best: Kohl's

180 days
Kohl's promises "hassle-free returns," which translates to a refund or exchange for about six months from the date of purchase with a receipt. Even without a receipt, a cashier can use a valid photo I.D. to look up your purchase. Otherwise Kohl's issues store credit based on the lowest price in the past 13 weeks. One big exception: Electronics have just a 30-day window for return or exchange with receipt. Returns with a gift receipt are issued as store credit or an even exchange.

Sears
Sears by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Worst: Sears/Kmart

30 days
Kmart and Sears generally give customers just 30 days to return or exchange a purchase, with some exceptions. Both retailers give Shop Your Way members a 45-day window, however. Online shoppers must pay for return shipping.

Amazonian Abby
Amazonian Abby by Jeffrey (CC BY-SA)

Worst: Amazon

30 days
Yep, this retail behemoth gives customers just 30 days to return or exchange most items. Amazon does pay for return shipping in many instances, but you may get stuck paying for postage on non-eligible items, or if you don't return the parcel to a designated Amazon drop-off location (such as Kohl's, which has started handling Amazon returns for free — no box, shipping label, or purchase required). One notable exception to Amazon's return policy: You have up to 365 days to return most Amazon-branded products.

Related: 60 Hottest Holiday Gifts from Amazon

Barnes & Noble - Francis Scott Key Mall
Barnes & Noble - Francis Scott Key Mall by Mike Kalasnik (CC BY-SA)

Worst: Barnes & Noble

30 days
The bookseller used to allow just 14 days for returns and its current policy allows only 30. And hold on to that receipt or packing invoice; you'll need it in order to return or exchange merchandise. You'll also have to pay for return shipping if it was an online purchase. If you're returning a gift, you've got 60 days, but you need a gift receipt.

Worst: Best Buy
Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty Images News / Getty Images North America / Getty Images CC

Worst: Best Buy

15 days
Best Buy plays its return policy pretty straight: only 15 days on most items. Elite and Elite Plus members get a bit of a break, with 30 and 45 days, respectively, to return or exchange their purchases. Best Buy doesn't offer free return shipping for items purchased online.

Worst: Apple Store
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Worst: Apple Store

14 days
When it comes to return policies, the Apple Store is rather Scrooge-like. You've got just two weeks to return or exchange merchandise, although the company does offer free return shipping. If you're returning a gift, you can receive Apple Store credit as long as you have the gift receipt, serial number, or order number.

Shopify
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Worst: Abe's of Maine

14 days
Before you can even send back a purchase to Abe's of Maine, you have to call the electronics retailer to receive a "return authorization merchandise" number. You've got two weeks to send back the unwanted merchandise, and you'll be zinged with a 10% restocking fee. One saving grace: Abe's of Maine does not charge a restocking fee for defective items.