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Tech Buyer's Guide to Return Policies

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Nothing spoils the thrill of a good deal like realizing that you have to return it. But sending your last gadget purchase back doesn't have to be a hassle. When shopping on dealnews, come back and reference this list of return policies for the top electronics stores. Follow their guidelines, retain all your packing material, and don't wait to make a return. All stores require an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) unless you're returning to a local store. To get an RMA, contact the store before sending an item back. A few observations:
  1. Costco continues to have the best return policy in the business.
  2. Amazon's return policies don't apply to third-party merchants, and it's confusingly hard to tell who you're buying from at Amazon.
  3. If you might return it, don't open it.
  4. Buy.com has slow shipping and a short 14-day return policy, so be wary.
  5. TigerDirect has the worst return policy of all 14 stores. Second Act isn't far ahead, with no returns on TVs (the bulk of what they sell).
  6. Not all stores enforce their restocking fee in every case, and you may find some willing to accept a return that they normally would refuse. It's worth a call to customer service to haggle.

Return Policy
Restocking Fee
Non-refundable Items
Return Shipping
Amazon.com
30 days to return new, unopened items for a full refund. Opened items or new items returned after 30 days may receive a partial refund.
15% on opened computers.
Gas-powered items, grocery products.
Paid for by consumer (unless flawed).
BestBuy.com
30-day return period on most items. 14-days for computers, monitors, projectors, camcorders, cameras, radar detectors.
15% on opened electronics, 25% on special order products and appliances.
Opened movies / software (can only be returned for an exchange).
Paid by consumer.
Buy.com
14 days from date product shipped.
15% (if opened).
Clearance items, opened software, Deal of the Day products (all can be exchanged if defective). TVs 27" and larger (even if TV is defective).
Paid by consumer.
CircuitCity.com
30 days for DirecTV receivers. 14 days for cameras, camcorders, computers, monitors, printers, scanners, projectors, PDAs, mobile video, GPS, radar detectors.
15% on opened items, 25% on home theater furniture.
N/A
Paid by consumer.
Costco
90 days for televisions, projectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, iPod / MP3 players, cell phones. No limit on all other items.
N/A
N/A
Paid by Costco.
Dell Home
30 days for PowerEdge, PowerConnect, PowerVault products. 21 days for unopened products.
15% on everything (including unopened items).
N/A
Paid by consumer.
Frys.com
30 days for all products.
N/A
24" and larger TVs (defective units can be exchanged). Software, video games, gaming consoles, CDs, DVDs (if opened).
Paid by consumer.
newegg.com
30 days standard policy, 15 days for opened items, 7 days for CPUs.
All products 15%.
Computers, LCDs, DVDs. Defective units can be exchanged (LCDs are defective if they have 8 or more dead pixels).
Paid by consumer.
OfficeDepot.com
30 days for office supplies, 14 days for unopened software, desktop computers, monitors, printers, scanners, faxes, multifunction machines, furniture, and Configure To Order products.
N/A
Opened software, notebooks, projectors, PDAs, and digital cameras. However, they can be exchanged for the same item within 14 days of purchase (except software).
Paid by Office Depot.
OneCall.com
30 days on all unopened or defective merchandise.
All products 15% unless defective.
TVs 20" and larger, custom-cut cables, A / V furniture, and projection bulbs.
Paid by consumer.
Second Act
Returns are only allowed on UPS-delivered items.
15% on UPS-delivered items.
All TVs.
Paid by consumer.
Staples.com
14 days for unopened computers, monitors, computer peripherals, MFPs, cameras, scanners, phones, networking products, furniture.
N/A
Custom furniture unless defective.
Paid by consumer.
TigerDirect.com
No returns unless item is defective (at Tiger's discretion), 30 days if so.
Fee is at TIGER'S DISCRETION.
No refunds.
N/A.
Vanns.com
30 days if unopened, 15 days for products in original condition, 7 days for items from clearance center.
Minimum of 20% for items ruturned after normal return policy timelimits, damaged contents, opened software.
N/A
Paid by consumer.

Louis Ramirez is a dealnews Features Editor who wishes more stores would pony up for return shipping. With reporting by Jeff Somogyi, who wonders if you can return a pony.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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