Have you gotten to the point where you dread trying to return a defective item to a retailer? I say "trying to return" because many retailers won't accept defective merchandise anymore. "Call or write the manufacturer," they say. If you're lucky, a retailer may consider returning a defective item on a "case by case basis."

Even retailers who might accept an item for a refund will make the customer feel as if he or she is trying to take advantage of the policy. And I'll freely admit that many consumers have exploited retailers' liberal return policies. Ask anyone who's ever worked behind the customer service counter at Target, and they will tell stories that make any person embarrassed at how we are.

So the best I expect to hope for is the nice customer service person or salesperson who gives me the "I can't believe you're doing this" look and then says "We don't normally do this, but I'll make an exception."


So there I was at the counter  trying to return a Hugo Boss polo shirt that had shrunk in the dryer, I'd thrown away the receipt and the tags and had even ripped out the tag with an extra button attached to it.  Could I have returned a shrunken polo shirt without a receipt or tags to Target? Okay, dumb question.


My dread had a happy ending because I bought the shirt at Nordstrom. I don't shop there very often, so I was worried that maybe its customer-friendly policies had changed. The saleswoman was able to look up the purchase at the computer terminal with my credit card number since it was made within 30 days. And she was pleasant, apologetic even, by saying "Hugo Boss shirts often shrink in the dryer." 

There's something to be said for doing business with a retailer that unequivocally stands behind its products. They deserve our business. Besides Nordstrom, I'd also put Costco and Sam's Club on that short list. More than a few catalog retailers also belong on the list including Lands' End, L.L. Bean, Vermont Country Store and Cuddledown. Many other retailers also have liberal return policies but not quite 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed. I'd include Bloomingdale's, Home Depot, J.C. Penney, Kohl's, Lowe's, Macy's and Menards. I've heard from several readers who have had good experiences at Wal-Mart too, although it's difficult to pin down their policy.

Note:  Returns without a receipt can be a lot easier when an item is charged on a debit or credit card. If the purchase was made 30 to 90 days prior, it will still be on record. Some retailers go out even longer.

Anyone else want to give a shout out to a retailer or catalog merchant that provides superior service on returns?