UNDATED -- If you are headed to the store to return a gift it's important to note that several stores have tightened their return policy.

Three major stores have shortened their return periods, according to a survey.

Here are some of the changes:

  • Best Buy cut its regular return period in half from 30 to 15 days for most customers last March, and shortened its holiday return period by nine days (now January 15 instead of January 24). Special orders now are not refundable.
  • Sears shortened its regular return policy for major appliances and vacuums from 60 to 30 days, and excludes them from its extended holiday return period. On the other hand, Sears extended the return period for mattresses to 60 days. Sears continues to impose a 15% restocking fee for missing parts or if items are used. Exchanged items are not eligible for a subsequent refund, only another exchange.
  • Toys-R-Us introduced an extended holiday return policy until January 25 for most items, but certain electronics purchased November 1 onwards must be returned by January 9. Previously, electronic items had a 45-day return window, but now that is reduced to only 30.
  • Macy's now imposes a 15% restocking fee on furniture and mattress returns. They continue to affix a customer return label to some goods so a receipt may not be necessary.
  • Amazon now rejects jewelry returned without all documentation (previously it imposed a 15% restocking fee). Restocking fees were reduced from 50% to 20% for late returns.

Unusual policies:

  • will pay for return shipping with their label. REDcard holders get 30 extra return days. Items that are opened/damaged/receipt-less may be denied a refund or exchange.
  • Express, Bloomingdale's, and require special occasion dresses to be returned with tags in place to deter wardrobing - buying then returning after a one-time wearing.
  • 37-inch and larger TVs are not returnable, and there is up to a 100% restocking fee for some open, used, or late items.
  • Sports Authority stores will not accept returns of goods purchased at their online store.
  • Office Max's 30-day return policy excludes refunds on goods that it no longer stocks. Open technology products returned within 14 days are subject to a 15% restocking fee.
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