Getting a jump on your online holiday shopping? Those free shipping offers are sure tempting. But before you click "buy," be sure to click over to the return policy page. If your giftees aren't giddy about your presents, they certainly won't be happy if they have to shell out to return or exchange them.
With holiday shopping expected to be slightly higher this year than last, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of a return.
FreeShipping.org, a service that lists e-commerce sites with free shipping offers, this week released its list of return policies at 10 popular e-commerce shopping destinations. Here's a quick peek at the list and some additional thoughts to keep in mind when returning items with a receipt:
Online shoe retailers Endless.com, Shoebacca.com, and Zappos.com all offer customers a 365-day return policy for unwanted, unworn, or defective footwear. In addition, the companies offer free shipping for returns, as well as a full refund.
Clothing retailer Overland.com has no restrictions on when an item must be returned in order to receive a full refund, although its preference is within a year. The company also provides free shipping labels to mail the merchandise back via FedEx.
Big-box retailer Costco (COST) allows customers to return most items at anytime, provided the original receipt and packing material are enclosed, notes FreeShipping.org. And return shipping is free no matter the size or weight of the item -- they'll even send a shipper out to pick up that big and bulky French door refrigerator ordered online that needs to be returned. Electronics, however, are on a shorter tether and must be returned within 90 days. Costco also provides full refunds.
While these five companies offer the easiest return policies, FreeShipping.org has another five that made their top 10 list as well.
L.L. Bean doesn't have any time restrictions on returns, but return shipping is only free for L.L. Bean Visa Card members. Other customers will see their refund reduced by $6.50 when they use a prepaid return label.
Lands' End also doesn't have a deadline for returning merchandise. And although returns are free when exchanging merchandise, the retailer will deduct $6.95 if it's a straight-up refund request.
Macy's (M) allows for a full refund or exchange within 180 days after purchase, but jewelry is on a tighter time frame of only 30 days. Customers absorb the cost of mailing merchandise back.
Kohl's (KSS) has a more lenient return policy with no deadline for mailing back merchandise. And it sometimes offers free shipping for returns.
Toys R Us and Babies R Us accept online returns within 90 days after purchase, but customers are on their own for shipping costs unless the item is damaged or defective, according to the retailer's website.
Motley Fool contributor Dawn Kawamoto does not own any shares in the companies listed in this article. However, she has been known to be an avid shopper as the holiday season approaches. The Motley Fool owns shares of Costco. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Costco.