During quarantine, many of us have probably been doing a lot more online shopping than usual as we try to steer clear of brick-and-mortar retailers — so today we’re sharing some of the stores with the best return policies. We’ve rounded up seven retailers that offer customers easy returns with long return periods and free return shipping. When applicable, we’ve included coronavirus-related changes or policies.
What have you found to be the stores with the best return policies, either for clothing or other items? Have you ever had trouble returning things to particular retailers, either recently or pre-pandemic?
Psst: In the past we’ve talked about best practices for returning items bought online (packaging/mailing advice), as well as how to make sure you get your money back on returned online purchases, and we’ve also discussed online shopping: who? where? why? with readers. We’ve also rounded up beauty store return policies in our post with the best beauty store tips and tricks.
Also — if you somehow damaged the box your order was mailed in, or your items were sent in lots of little packages and you want to place your returns in one big package, Kat’s a fan of these self-sealing poly shipping bags.
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Which retailers have the best return policies? Here are seven workwear retailers with amazing return policies.
Regular return policy: Considering that it’s famous for great customer service, it’s no surprise that Nordstrom has a flexible, generous return policy. Nordstrom doesn’t set time limits for returns or exchanges and notes on its site that it handles each return “on a case-by-case basis.” Shipping for returns and exchanges is free, and the company provides a prepaid USPS label.
For store returns, you’ll need your receipt and original form of payment. Without a proof of purchase, Nordstrom will put the amount of your return on a gift card (and they’ll probably ask for your identification for these transactions).
COVID-19 adjustments: Mailed returns are currently delayed because of safety measures; returns and/or refunds will take longer than the usual 14 business days.
Regular return policy: I love Athleta‘s Give-It-a-Workout Guarantee, which has the tagline “Work it out. If it doesn’t perform, return it.” It’s especially nice for sports bras, but it’s great for any workout gear — you can give things a trial run for chafing, bunching, etc.
(Note that a few months ago, we included Athleta in our post on the best athleisure brands that are worth the splurge.)
Shipping for returns and exchanges is free (with a prepaid UPS or USPS label), and there’s no time limit for returning items bought online. For a refund, you’ll need either the shipping confirmation email, the package from your order, or the original credit card.
You can return online items to an Athleta store unless they’re marked “Mail Only.”
COVID-19 adjustments: Mailed returns are currently delayed by 4–6 weeks, partially because of safety precautions. As of this post, Athleta is encouraging in-store returns (for stores that have reopened) by offering $10 off your same-day in-store purchase. (You’ll need to show a printout of your shipping confirmation or the shipping email notification on your phone.)
Regular return policy: Bloomingdale’s has a generous 365-day return/refund policy for most items. Shipping for returns and exchanges is free (with a prepaid UPS label). Within 90 days, you’ll get credit to your original form of payment; starting at 91 days, you’ll receive a merchandise credit.
If you don’t have a receipt, you’ll only receive store credit — and you may need to provide your name and address. Final Offer items must be returned within 30 days.
COVID-19 adjustments: If you bought items before 4/1/20, you have an additional 90 days to return them, for a total of 455 days from the date of purchase. To have the items credited to your original form of payment, you have 180 days total.
Regular return policy: You might have heard that L.L. Bean has changed their famous return policy. As reported in this article, in 2018 the retailer ended its “lifetime guarantee” that allowed customers to return products years after purchase.
The reason for this change was a “This is why we can’t have nice things” situation — people were taking advantage of the policy. (This American Life got an up-close look during a visit to an L.L. Bean store in part two of this 2016 episode — it’s worth a listen.)
Under the revised policy, L.L. Bean allows you to return an item “if you are not 100% satisfied” — within one year of purchase, that is. They’ll consider returns after that point for defective products. You’ll need proof of purchase for returns or exchanges, and you’ll receive a refund or a return gift card.
To return an online order, use the UPS label from your packing slip — the shipping charge is $6.50. If you exchange an item, the company will waive the standard shipping fee for the replacement.
COVID-19 adjustments: Due to COVID “challenges,” mailed returns can take up to 3–4 weeks.
Regular return policy: Shipping for return and exchanges is free. If you’re not 100% satisfied, Zappos accepts returns for a full refund to your original form of payment within 365 days of purchase — “no catches or exceptions.” Just be sure the original tags are attached, the item is unworn, and the original packaging is included.
For exchanges, you’ll receive your refund for the original item as an online gift card, then the company will apply it to the replacement. You’ll need to return the original purchase within 14 days.
COVID-19 adjustments: None listed on website.
Regular return policy: When you return an item to Lands’ End within 90 days (with a proof of purchase), you’ll receive a refund to your original form of payment. The company will deduct a shipping charge of $6.95 (USPS) from your refund if you use the provided return label — or you can use a shipper of your choice and pay that amount.
If you don’t have proof of purchase for an online order or you return the item after 90 days, you’ll get a merchandise credit. For exchanges, you can call 1-800-963-4816 to order the replacement item and receive free standard shipping.
COVID-19 adjustments: Face masks are ineligible for returns; no other changes listed.
Regular return policy: Kohl’s calls its return policy “Hassle-Free Returns” and allows returns of in-store and website items for 180 days after purchase (except for some electronics).
Returns of in-store items to a store location require an original receipt for a refund or an even exchange. If you can’t find your store receipt and the staff can’t locate your purchase in the system, you’ll receive a merchandise credit.
You can return online orders by mail or to a store. Kohl’s doesn’t offer a mailing label for mailed returns, so you’ll have to pay shipping. The website advises allowing 30 days for your return to be processed, which seems a bit long — but I think the 180-day return period makes up for it! Items should have their original tags and be unworn and unused.
Note that Kohl’s doesn’t process exchanges by mail — and details regarding returns involving Kohl’s Cash/Rewards are here.
COVID-19 adjustments: None listed on website.
What do you think are the retailers with the best return policies? When you’re buying something, how much does the return policy affect your decision? How often do you return items you’ve bought in store or online?