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Top 10 Consumer-Friendly Retail Store Company Policies To Take Advantage Of

By David Bakke

We’ve recently discussed some of the worst retail company policies out there. Hopefully this has helped you to avoid some holiday buzz kills. As a follow up, I want to review some of the best consumer deals around. Not only do these show the ways that companies can treat a customer well, but they might also help you to make some great last minute holiday purchases.

Some of these policies have to do with retail purchasing, while others are good to know before making your holiday travel plans. I consider myself to be a pretty savvy shopper, but even I was pretty surprised by some of these, especially in comparison to the “worst” list.

So here it goes, my top ten list of fantastic consumer policies you should know about as you make your final holiday purchases.

1. Walmart
This has got to be the best of the best. I think they call it the “no receipt, no problem” policy. At Walmart, you can return most items for a cash refund (applies to purchases under $25), or a gift card (for purchases over $25). You can also exchange items without a receipt. I am pleasantly surprised by this policy. The only catch is that if you have more than three returns without a receipt within a 45-day period, then you’ll need a manager’s approval for further returns.

2. Hotels.com
This travel website never charges a fee to cancel or modify a room reservation. However, you should still check the hotel’s reservation policy to be sure to avoid any penalties on that end.

3. Southwest Airlines
In my opinion, Southwest is tops when it comes to airline travel. As the commercials say, they allow two pieces of checked luggage per traveler at absolutely no charge.

4. L.L.Bean
Here’s another good one. L.L.Bean has a 100 percent product satisfaction guarantee. You can return anything, at anytime, for any reason. Now there’s a company that knows how to run a business!

5. Costco
Costco’s policy is similar to the one from L.L.Bean. Except, they sell just about everything under the sun, which makes this a very consumer-friendly deal. Costco has an open-ended return policy for virtually everything they sell. This excludes some home electronics, although those still come with a 30-day return window.

6. Orvis
Orvis customers can call a toll-free number and actually speak to a human being. If this doesn’t strike you as a big deal, the robots may already have won. Orvis also offers live Web chat, email inquiries, and a guaranteed response time of two hours or less.

7. Publix
You’ve got to love this one. I’m not sure if this deal applies to all stores or not, but at some Florida locations, you can get up to a 14-day supply of some of the most common generic prescriptions, free of charge. All you need is an existing prescription. And they also have offers for free medications for diabetics, too. Incredible, right? Inquire at your local Publix branch to be sure.

8. Zappos.com
This company has built its brand on customer service. At Zappos, you always get free shipping, both ways, and free, 365-day returns. Returns are fast and simple. The company allows you to print your own UPS or USPS return slips or else request the delivery of a return slip in the mail.

9. U.S. Cellular
U.S. Cellular is a fairly unknown player in the cell phone industry. However, this wireless company actually gives its customers a reminder when they are about to exceed their monthly allotment of minutes. This is the sort of policy that helps a company earn my trust.

10. J&R
J&R is a very popular online shopping site. This electronics superstore has a great price match policy without many exclusions or obstacles. They also give customers thirty days to ask for a price adjustment on existing orders if they find the same item at a better price.

So, there you have it, my top ten retail policies that actually favor the customer. Show these companies they’re doing the right thing and take advantage of these deals when you can. Do you have other favorites? If you have uncovered any other enticing consumer policies, please share them below.

(photo credit: markjms)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • http://ThriftyWifey.com Laura

    Kohls has one of the best return policies i’ve seen, they will accept a return even if you’ve worn the item, without a tag, without a receipt, etc. They are awesome with returns and don’t treat you like a thief for trying to return an item without the receipt.

    • David Bakke

      Laura

      Great addition to the list–and thanks for commenting!!

  • Kevin Vesga

    I’m surprised Kohls is not on the list considering how much their advertising touts their return policy. Especially now in the holiday season.

    • Heather D

      Yes, Kohls is excellent too and they have great promos with their 10.00 off 10.00 coupons. I have been very satisfied with them and their customer service. I had an expired coupon that the manager let me use recently. I just had not had time to use it and she authorized it anyhow. it always pays to ask.

      • David Bakke

        Yes guys–I probably should have included Kohl’s–Happy Holidays!

  • http://www.prairieecothrifter.com Miss T @ Prairie EcoThrifter

    Costco’s return policy is awesome. I have never had a hard time returning anything from there. They just let me get a new one, no questions asked.

    • David Bakke

      Miis T–I was unaware of Costco’s policy–thanks for including it and thanks for joining the conversation…

  • Cassandra S.

    Thank you for posting about the Wal-Mart return policy. I was just trying to find a receipt for a purchase I made for some items that ended up being the wrong size, and I could not find it. After I read this, I learned that I just need to return these to the store and get my money back with no problem. So, tomorrow I will be going to the store to return these items.

    • David Bakke

      Cassandra

      Yes, it really is a great policy…thanks for commenting!!

      • Cassandra S.

        Hi, Everyone.
        I thought I would let you know about my experience I had when I went to return some items to my local Wal-Mart after reading this post so that others would be aware of what might happen when you go in to return items without a receipt.

        When I had read about this policy, I was so happy, because I could not find the receipt for some pants I had purchased for my son. It turned out to be the wrong kind of pants that he did not want. When I went to the store, I was informed that I could only return the items for other clothes, and that I could not get my money back. When I informed them that is not what there policy stated, I was told that it was something their store did and that it was not a Wal-mart policy. Since I had other errands to run, I left the store to run my errands and then called the store to speak to management where I was given the same run around(I was only able to talk to an assistant manager because the store manager was not available) . Next, I called Wal-Mart’s 800 number only to be told that it was true that there was a no receipt policy, BUT the stores could choose to do what they wanted. The Wal-Mart rep I spoke to did file my complain and sent the store manager instructions to contact me. I don’t think anything will come of it though.

        I was extremely disappointed in this event, especially since I do a lot of my shopping at Wal-Mart and have never had a problem with them. However, before this, I’ve always have my receipt.
        I just thought I would pass the word so no one else would go through this.

        • http://www.moneycrashers.com David/moneycrashers

          Cassandra

          These are the kind of comments that I truly appreciate for my articles.

          Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

          Had it been me, I think I may have pursued the matter a little further–that “run-a-around” you got sounds completely ridiculous.

          Why bother having the policy at all in that case?

          I hope it works out for you in the end

  • Heather D

    Living in Maine, the original home of LL Bean (or Beans as we have always called it) We know the value of their return policy first hand. My parents first started taking us there in the 70’s for all of our camping equipment, snowboots (bean-boots) etc. In all the years we have shopped at Beans, we have never been disappointed. Sometimes, after 5 years, the soles on a boot would wear out. If you took them back, Beans would replace them no questions asked. Yes, boots that were 5 years old! I returned a tent one year affter we had gone camping and we just really did not like design and style of it. It was a 300 dollar tent. NO receipt. My money was refunded again, no questions asked. Hands down, this is the BEST retailer I know of. And they now have so much more than tents and boots. An excellent company that does alot for the local community as well.

    • David Bakke

      Heather

      That’s awesome! It seems like they have really taken care of you and really understand the meaning of “customer service”!

      Thanks for chiming in…

  • http://frozenactivist.net Tonei

    Also of note: Southwest allows you to cancel or change tickets without any fees, you just pay the difference in fare (and if it’s a lower fare, they give you a credit for the difference).

    • David Bakke

      Tonei

      Great addition to the list–thanks for joining the conversation!

  • Weston

    I’m shocked by your number one choice.

    The worst experience I have had with a retail chain in years was last month when I tried to return a vacuum cleaner that never worked to the very Walmart that we purchased it from. The customer service people were downright nasty and refused to accept the return. They said that since I had purchased it at their store on a debit card and had lost the receipt, I had to go home and print out something from my bank proving that I had in fact purchased it.

    When I told the customer service supervisor that I found it hard to believe that one of the largest corporations in the world was unable to confirm that on their own simply by swiping the bar code she got into a huff and just walked away without responding in any manner.

    After dealing with 3 separate people in the customer service department I eventually had to go to an Assistant Store manager who finally authorized the refund after I told him (truthfully) that the sales clerk had denied that the carton had ever been opened before we purchased it (even though it seemed to have been opened and resealed) and when we got it home it never worked, and I eventually discovered that it had a broken belt.

    It took us over an hour of hassles and dealing with lousy attitudes but we finally got our refund. I doubt I will ever shop in a Walmart again unless I absolutely have no other choice.

    • David Bakke

      Weston

      Outlining your experience is truly valuable to our readers.

      Although I mentioned Walmart in my list, they certainly don’t have a great track record overalll when it comes to customer serivce.

      I appreciate you taking the time to share your story with our readers–and can certainly understand your desire to never return there.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Tabatha

    Like J&R, I thought I would mention that Amazon.com also allows thirty days to ask for a price adjustment on existing orders. And of course, they sell everything.

    • David Bakke

      Tabatha

      The price adjustment option on Amazon is a great option as well.

      Thanks for joing the discussion!

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