Consumer News & Views
In this Issue…
Which Retailers Have the Best and Worst Return Policies for Consumers? ‘Tis the season for shopping and getting gifts you may not want or need. How will you fare with retailers when you try to return those items that don’t fit or can’t keep? Here is the lowdown on the 10 best retailer return policies, and 5 retailers who make it difficult for consumers to return unwanted items.
According to Michelle Smith, a freelance business and finance writer, the best return policies make it simple and easy for customers to return or exchange a purchase if they aren’t satisfied. In fact, many of the 10 best return policies place no time limits on returns, and some will accept exchanges and returns even for well-used items.
These favorable return policies truly put the customer first, which is a huge help for the shopper struggling with a holiday spending hangover, or a giftee dealing with a haul of unwanted presents. Click through to see the 10 stores with the most generous return policies this holiday season.
1. Nordstrom Return Policy.
In practice, this gives Nordstrom team members a lot of flexibility on returns, which can work in the customer's favor. For instance, there is no time limit on returns or exchanges, and Nordstrom's return policy does not have any hard-and-fast rules against returning items without a receipt, without tags or that have been worn (special occasion dresses excluded). Nordstrom's online return policy is similarly generous, and return shipping is free.
Shoppers should note that the Nordstrom Rack return policy is different, granting 90 days to return items, and requiring returns to have original tags and receipt or packing slip.
2. L.L. Bean Return Policy
Having a receipt handy will make a return easier, but is not required. Returns made without a receipt will be refunded in the form of store credit at the item's current selling price, or replaced by an exchange for a similar item. Returns can also be completed by mail.
3. Bed Bath & Beyond Return Policy.
Without a receipt, a Bed Bath & Beyond employee can look up a purchase made in the last 365 days. If a record can't be located, you can still get a refund — though it will be store credit equal to the item's current purchase price less 20 percent.
4. JC Penney Return Policy.
While JC Penney is another retailer with no time limit on returns, it also has more exceptions to this rule for furniture, fine jewelry and electronics. Many of these types of items will also require a sales receipt for return. In general, however, JC Penney's return policy gives customers plenty of leeway to get an exchange or refund when they want it.
5. Costco Return Policy.
Costco prefers customers include the original packaging and bring their receipt when possible. However, these aren't required, and employees will still "do our best to process your return without it." In most cases, since Costco requires a membership to shop at its stores, purchases can be looked up on the membership if the customer no longer has a receipt. Costco offers returns at its stores only and not through mail, except for large or heavy items for which the warehouse retailer can arrange pickup.
6. Staples Return Policy.
Items returned to Staples must be in "salable condition" with the original packaging, but can be returned with or without a receipt. If you can't provide a receipt, Staples will try to look up the purchase to give you a full refund in the original payment method. If it can't be located, you'll still get a refund for the item's lowest sale price in the last 30 days, in the form of store credit.
7. Zappos Return Policy.
Items must be in like-new condition and in their original packaging to qualify for a return to Zappos.com. Purchases are also tied to a Zappos account, so members of the site never have to worry about a misplaced receipt or packing slip.
8. REI Return Policy.
The only factor that kept REI out of the top five is its policy not to accept any returns or exchanges without proof of purchase — like a receipt, gift receipt or shipping invoice. Shoppers can sign up for an REI membership to tie purchases to their member number, which can be used to look up past purchases even without a receipt.
9. Macy's Return Policy.
Likewise, shoppers can make returns without a receipt, but only for store credit equal to the item's lowest selling price in the last 180 days. Items must also be unused, unworn and unwashed to be accepted for return.
10. Kohl's Return Policy.
5 Worst Return Policies.
The worst of the return policies surveyed by GOBankingRates had a few things in common: They have short time limits on returns, often don't accept returns without a receipt and have other terms that make returns trickier. The worst store, in fact, doesn't offer refunds at all — returns are only eligible for exchange or store credit.
You'd better be sure about your purchases if you're shopping at the retailers with the worst return policies. Click through for the details on the five worst return policies.
1. Forever 21 Return Policy.
For online returns by mail, Forever 21's policy is slightly better. It extends the return window to 30 days, and will refund the purchase to the credit card used to pay. The Forever 21 return policy also noted that final sale items, cosmetics and gift cards cannot be returned for a refund or exchange, except to correct a defect or error.
2. Kmart Return Policy.
Many items will not be eligible for return if their packages are opened — including music, movies, video games and software. Kmart has no plans to offer an extended holiday return window this year, the retailer confirmed via Twitter.
3. Barnes & Noble Return Policy.
The bookseller will not issue returns without a receipt or other proof of payment, and returns made with a gift receipt will receive refunds via store credit. Barnes & Noble did extend its return window last holiday season, CNBC reported.
4. GameStop Return Policy.
Pre-owned items can be returned for a refund within seven days, or for an identical exchange within 30 days. GameStop's return policy requires that all items be returned with original packaging and in "sellable condition," and reserves the right to refuse returns of opened items.
5. Sears Return Policy.
However, Sears will extend its return on windows for the holidays, allowing items purchased by Dec. 24 to be returned through January 24, 2016. The original packaging is required for the return to be accepted, and some items will carry a 15 percent restocking fee which will be deducted from the refund. Sears will not accept any returns of Christmas season items after December 25.
Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed the return policies of 31 major retailers popular during the holiday shopping season to determine the best and worst. GOBankingRates ranked each policy on (1) the return window provided, (2) whether the retailer accepted returns without a receipt, (3) the condition required for returns, and (4) whether the store typically offered extended holiday returns. Other return policy terms unique to retailers were considered in the rankings, as they benefited the customer.
About the Author. Michelle Smith is a freelance business and finance writer with an extensive background in journalism. She served as a foreign correspondent for Russia Today, and as a resource reporter for Dig Media, her work was published on numerous channels, including Gold Investing News, Platinum Investing News and Diamond Investing News. She also contributed to Money News, Fool.com, Money Crashers and The Food Institute.
The High Cost of Tuition: How Can Your Credit Union Help?
According to the Institute for College Access and Success’s report ‘Quick Facts about Student Debt’ published in March of 2014:
Is it any surprise that the numbers are increasing? With the recession of 2008 hitting so many, these are worrisome figures. Many of those affected include professionals who might otherwise have been able to help defray these costs. Students are strapped with debt before they even get out into the world: and a hefty debt at that. Is it fair to turn out students whose initial concern after graduation is how can they repay the monumental debt that they accrued in college? What are the job placement prospects to alleviate the concern of paying off these loans?
WHAT ARE THE STANDARD OPTIONS?
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is supposed to be easy but can be daunting for the first time applier. There are many requirements that need to be in place to include the latest tax return but using last year’s return for projecting parent’s/student’s income would do to get going. www. Fafsa.gov is where to go. How much you’ll get can be estimated by what’s called the FAFSA4caster which is a calculator that will ballpark your estimate of Federal Student Aid. You must use the FAFSA application to apply once you’ve decided on at least one school for admission.
Stafford Loans, government loans, offer subsidized and unsubsidized loans, which range from $8,500 to $12,000 per year depending on which type you chose. The interest rates are currently projected at 4.66%, which accrues while the student is in school.
The Pell Grant is available for undergraduates and doesn’t have to be
repaid but is capped at $5,730 for 2014-2015 school year and $5,775 for the
2015-2016 school year, depending on need.
A CREDIT UNION-FRIENDLY CONCEPT:
What Does the Future Hold for Students?
But it highlighted an issue that will continue to grow – how do we pay for that college degree that is so highly respected by employers? Once again, credit unions can be the leaders in an area often left behind by the banking industry – we can help our members help themselves.
About the Author: Geoff Bacino is a partner at Bacino & Associates, a national government relations, strategic planning and business solutions firm. http://www.bacinoassociates.com/
ACC Annual Meeting Scheduled for June 10, 2016. The American Consumer Council will hold its annual membership and business meeting on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 10:00 am at The Lodge at Torrey Pines located in La Jolla, CA. The meeting is open to all members of ACC and there is no charge to attend the meeting. The business agenda for the meeting will be published in May 2016. For more information, please contact ACC’s meeting department at 1-800-544-0414.
ACC’s Friend of the Consumer Award Recognizes Outstanding Businesses in 2015.
Is your business consumer-friendly? Does your business deserve greater recognition for its service to consumers? If so, you should apply for the American Consumer Council’s Friend of the Consumer Award. Now is the time to apply!
Throughout the year, ACC presents its "Friend of the Consumer" Awards. This prestigious award recognizes manufacturers, retailers, and other businesses that produce or sell products in the United States that meet or exceed federally-mandated standards and are touted by consumers as “consumer friendly.”
Each year, ACC awards numerous "Friend of the Consumer" Awards to deserving companies and organizations because they have "demonstrated a commitment to American consumers by providing a specific product or service that fosters consumer confidence and market acceptance."
To apply for the "Friend of the Consumer" award,
complete the online application and return it to ACC with the application fee.
Applicants will be notified within 5 days of receipt of their application.
Thereafter, a panel of independent judges will review your application and make
a formal recommendation within 20 days of receipt of your award application.
Green CSM Certification Accepting Applications for 2015 Winter Cycle:
If your company or organization would like to increase its credibility with consumers, you should consider applying for the Green CSM Certification. Applications for the 2015 Winter cycle are now being accepted through December 21, 2015.
It's a proven fact that consumers want to do business with companies that are eco-friendly and practice Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The process is straight-forward and all applicants are recognized by ACC and the Green USA Institute.
All applicants complete the criteria and submit their responses to ACC's Green Consumer Council for review, assessment and feedback. Program details and the Green CSM Certification criteria can be viewed at ACC's website located at: http://americanconsumercouncil.org/greenc.asp