The best and worst holiday return policies

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Looking for gifts ideas, deals and shopping hacks? Check out Yahoo Canada's holiday page.

It may be the thought that counts, but that won’t stop millions of people from returning gifts over the holiday season. 

Not every gift you give or receive will elicit a reaction like the woman in the Peloton ad (cue over the top gratitude). Sometimes, a gift simply misses the mark. The sweater from grandma just isn’t your colour or you already own two vegetable spiralizers or maybe, just maybe, you don’t want a $3,000 exercise bike from your significant other. 

If you have an especially persnickety bunch to shop for or you’re not particularly perceptive when it comes to gift-giving, give the gift of a hassle-free return or exchange. Some retailers offer generous return policies while others are less forgiving. 

From clothing to electronics and home goods, here are the best and worst return policies you may want to consider before spending your hard-earned dollars. 

BEST

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Nordstrom 

Nordstrom is one of the rare retail unicorns that don’t have a time limit for returns. The retailer handles returns on a case-by-case basis but generally, if you return items in new condition, you’ll get your money back without issue. The best thing about Nordstrom’s return policy is you don’t even need a receipt. Employees can scan a barcode on the item to locate the receipt in their system. 

Amazon

Amazon has a good return policy to begin with but, for the holidays, they relax it even further. Items delivered between November 1 and December 31 have until January 31 to be returned for a full refund. 

Bed, Bath and Beyond

There’s a reason Broad City’s Abbi Abrams harboured an unhealthy obsession for Bed, Bath and Beyond. Besides the wonderland of covetable home goods, they have a stellar return policy all year round. Customers have six months to get a refund with a receipt. If said receipt has been misplaced, you can get a merchandise credit less 20 per cent of the current retail price. 

Costco Canada

People looking to save a buck will undoubtedly be doing their holiday shopping haul at Costco. The wholesaler also has one of the best return policies in the world. To guarantee customer satisfaction, Costco doesn’t enforce a time limit. There are a few exceptions, including electronics, but it still offers a generous 90-day window. 

Walmart Canada

Like Costo, Walmart is one of the most popular destinations for holiday shopping. The one-stop shop has always had a lenient return policy. Items returned in their original condition with a receipt will be accepted within 90 days. However, watch out for those pesky exceptions, including electronics (14-30 days). If you’ve lost your receipt, they can look up the purchase in their system if you know the date and time.  

Ikea 

Ikea might not be the first place you think of for holiday shopping, but maybe it should be. On top of being a place to purchase practical gifts, Ikea is known for their reasonable prices and delicious Swedish food offerings. Customers have a full year to make returns with proof of purchase with some exceptions (food, sale items and plants). You can even return assembled items that didn’t quite pan out. 

The Bay

The Hudson’s Bay has a fairly average return policy of 30 days but, they extend it to 90 days to accommodate the influx of holiday shopping. The extended policy only applies to items purchased after October 11, 2019 and with a receipt.

Winners/Homesense/Marshalls

Not only will you find good deals at Winners, but they’re also offering an extended holiday return policy. Any purchases made between November 4 and December 24 may be returned until January 9, 2020.

WORST

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Apple

Apple offers a stingy 14-day window for returns but their Grinch-sized heart does grow a little during the holidays. Items purchased between November 15 and December 25, 2019 can be returned through January 8. 

Aritzia

If you’re still flip flopping on your Aritzia purchase, you better make a decision real quick. The Canadian fashion retailer will only return regular priced items until December 31st. After that, you’ll only receive a merchandise credit. Their usual return policy only gives you a 10-day window for a full refund with a receipt. 

Best Buy

Best Buy gives customers a break during the holidays but their return policy still isn’t anything to write home about. Items purchased after November 1 can be returned through January 9, but let’s be honest, who starts holiday shopping that early? Most people are making holiday purchases mid-December, which doesn’t leave much time for changing your mind. 

Zara

If you’ve ever set foot inside Zara, you know the chaos almost warrants keeping an item you’d rather return. The popular fashion retailer only gives you 30 days to return items and they’ll let you know they’re unhappy with your decision not to keep that fuzzy pink sweater. 

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