Returns Survey: Costco Good, Sports Authority Bad, Complicated

Written by Evan Schuman
December 16th, 2007

In its annual survey of major retail return policies, ConsumerWorld made its list and checked it twice of return policies that are naughty and nice.

Sports Authority, some Staples, KB Toys, The Limited and Express got on the naughty list because of their use of The Return Exchange’s database to limit customer returns.

"Some stores’ posted policies do not warn shoppers of a cap on frequent returns," the ConsumerWorld report said. "Last year, Express and The Limited for the first time explicitly disclosed return limits albeit on inconspicuous signs and receipt backs: five returns within any 90 day period with a receipt or only up to $300 without a receipt."

On the good list, Costco—which historically has had some of the most consumer-friendly return policies among the major retail chains—is still near the top, but has slightly tightened its policies, with no deadline for most merchandise, but a generous 90-day "for TVs, computers, cameras, portable music players, cell phones and projectors." also was on the good list, with a 180-day limit (the longest in the survey) for returns, but they also have a 25 percent restocking fee for furniture.

JC Penney this year is trying to address wardrobing with a requirement that "special occasion dresses to be returned with the return tag still in place," the story said.

The site also noted some policies it dubbed "novel," such as allowing returns after 30 days but deducting as much as 50 percent for them. Office Max offers returns on opened digital cameras at all, but will allow for digital camera exchanges if the products are defective.

Our favorite line from the report: "’s ‘Easy Returns’ policy is over 1500 words long."

"There may be many unhappy returns this year if consumers are slapped with unexpected restocking fees, or find themselves erroneously placed on a returns blacklist," said Consumer World Founder Edgar Dworsky. "There is also no excuse for retailers’ continued failure to clearly disclose their return policies to shoppers in advance."


2 Comments | Read Returns Survey: Costco Good, Sports Authority Bad, Complicated

  1. Erik Says:

    I almost always consider CostCo first when thinking about a larger purchase primarily because they have a fantastic return policy. They’ll even take returns if you’ve forgotten your reciept. Try to get that kind of service at Wal-Mart and you’ll get laughed out the door (with your merchandise you were trying to return).

  2. David Cox Jr. Says:

    The only problem with the Return Exchange database is you can’t seperate the thieves from a good customers return. Everybody that returns products didn’t steal it and the Return Exchange database has no way to determine the differents between a good return and a bad return. Because you have a return pattern don’t don’t make you a thief…You could of been a 20 year customer that enjoys shopping at one of these stores and a product didn’t workout for you. That’s why I will be glad when RFID tags is applied to the products. It will take the focus off of the person and back on the product.


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