Return Policy in Stores in the USA

Have you ever bought a defective item in the store in the US? Or maybe, you received something as a gift that you'd never use? Did you know in the US, that it may be possible to return items for refunds or exchanges?

Regardless of purchasing something in a physical store, online at Amazon, through a catalog or through a TV infomercial, many items purchased can be returned for refunds or exchanges in the US. In many cases, while it's best to return the item to the same store and location it was purchased from, sometimes some stores allow return of items purchased in different locations. Also, some online merchants with actual stores will allow online purchases to be returned at an actual store.

All stores have different policies. It's always good to ask in advance of purchasing items what a particular store's policy is. This is because policies vary from store to store, vary depending on the types of items purchased in stores (for instance opened CDs or movies usually can't be returned), or the time of year (Christmas exchange policies may differ, or as stores update their policies, it's good to be brought up to speed. This can only be done if you ask, however).

It is also possible with some merchants to be able to return items without a receipt. While stores are more strict about this, in some cases, people can return items to the store that were given as gifts or presents. In these cases, if the store accepts the return, they may offer store credit or exchange.

While most of us take the exchange and refund policy seriously (or can simply be too lazy to return stuff), some do take advantage of it. Over the years, popular TV shows like The King of Queens and The Simpsons have had episodes exposing their characters to the problems that happen when one can get obsessed over return policies. The episode from The King of Queens was called "Clothes Encounter" and the episode of the Simpsons was called "Loan-a-Lisa." 

Below take a look at some news reports on customer exchange policy headaches over the years. Note that exchange policies do also become stricter as the economy tightens up.

Walmart Stores are Confused by the Return Policy (2013)


Target Customer Has Problems With Exchange Policy (2012)



Jennifer Kumar, author of this post, helps newcomers to the US learn about how to navigate the day-to-day tasks of daily life in the US.

Note: Tips given in this article are based on the author's life experience. Tips in this article are given as guidelines and not hard and fast rules. Purchase, return and exchange at your own risk! Authentic Journeys does not endorse any particular merchants listed in this article.

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How to count American money 
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