Target return policy changes and it needs to be more upfront about it

Last month, Target ushered in the busy shopping season with changes in its return policy. The timing couldn't make more sense considering the premonition and speculation about a disastrous holiday season for retailers.

We all know the big discounter can't better rival Walmart on prices, but can it take a shot at them with the new policy and swing away traffic? Maybe not, according to ConsumerReports.org

On the face of it, the changes, which are still being rolled out, look awesome. In a year-long period, you can exchange any item or items up to $70 and many times as you want, as compared to the previous cap of $35 and only two returns without receipts.

The changes also allow for using a gift registry as a receipt. If you've reached your $70 limit, Target will still let you have an even exchange without a receipt. Walmart, on the other hand, allows the exchange of three items without receipts in a 45-day cycle.

So, which is a better deal? Well, Walmart wins on clarity and a cleaner policy. The company clearly spells out the details of a receipt-less return on its Web site, unlike Target which says it "allows a limited amount of no receipt refunds or exchanges for guests that don't have a receipt."

When asked why the company hasn't updated the policy changes on its Web site, Sonja Pothen, a Target spokeswoman, said it's because the company focuses on encouraging shoppers to always bring receipts for returns and exchanges.

Really, does anyone have the time to dig for the hidden changes? Target will have to do better than that.

Meanwhile, I think I'll just continue with my tried and tested habit of stashing those receipts in a secret compartment in my wallet.

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