Wednesday, December 29, 2010


In today’s economy, every dime counts. With children and others buying for you, a return to a store is certain. After such an occasion, where my husband purchased a pitcher, and it was the wrong size, it needed to be returned. He did not keep his receipt and an interesting thing occurred. He was told he had already returned 3 items without a receipt and that this would be his last. Wow! It was an item that only cost $1.50.

This made me wonder. Do all stores have this same return policy? Being the inquisitive person I am, research followed by calling the 3 major retail stores in our area.

Let me preference this with, I spoke to only managers and this is NOT the official response from the company. But being as we are everyday people, doing business with our local stores, why do I need an official response? I wanted to know what would happen if I came into a store with/without a receipt with an item I purchased from that store. I find the following very interesting.

Let’s start out with the number one chain right now… Wal-Mart.
Per telephone, I spoke with Laura and this is the information that she could provide me.

With a receipt, you have 90 days to return any item. Without a receipt, you are allowed 3 returns in a 45 day period. (Sound familiar?) They keep track of your returns without a receipt by taking your photo drivers license and inputting the Driver’s License Number.

Electronics are in their own category. With a receipt, you have 15 days. Without one, you can not exchange or receive a refund at all.

Games purchased for the kiddos? With a receipt, you have 3 months in the store from date of purchase. The manufacture gives you up to a year. Of course, this is unopened. Without one, you’re at the mercy of management.

Now you know the Wal-Mart way.

The second store I called was K-Mart. I spoke with Mark. All I can say for K-Mart is KEEP YOUR receipt! Basically, here is how they work.

With a receipt, you have 90 days to return a general return item. Without one, their isn’t anything they can scan, so a refund is impossible. That is if you do not have a Gift Receipt or Rewards Card. Either of these two items and you can receive a refund. The only other way is by paying with a credit card, and hoping that the card recognizes the charge and it will be credited back to your card. Money will not be given.

If you’re making a purchase for someone else, make sure you ask for a Gift Receipt. They have to go into the computer and make this selection for the system to give you a Gift Receipt.

Electronics with a receipt, original box with everything in it gives you an EXCHANGE. Without one, you’re just out of luck, nothing will be done.

Games… unopened… with a receipt… exchange. Games opened without a receipt will not be refunded in any way.

I encourage you that if you shop here to take the time out to fill out an application for a Rewards Card. It doesn’t cost anything, can be done in the store or online, and will help with all your returns. You also receive points for each purchase. (For more information on this, contact the store or store website.) I also provided them with my E-mail account and when I use my card they E-mail me a copy of the receipt. More insurance for that return!

Now you know the truth about the Blue Light Special.

And finally, we come to our last store… Target. Shane was my contact here and provided me with this information on his store.

With regular purchased items, and a receipt, you have 90 days to return it. Without a receipt, as long as it is unopened, it can be returned up to $70.00. They will provide you with a Gift Card… sorry, cash isn’t given back. They also only allow 3 returns in a 45 day period and use the Drivers Licenses method as well to keep track.

Electronics… You have to have the receipt. They can’t do anything without it.

Games… Unopened/with a receipt and receive a Gift Card. Without one, an exchange is possible.

Now does Target hit the spot?

Only you know how you shop and how you handle your receipts. But you now know the basic of all three stores and their policies. You can comparison shop with a better understanding on how you will be treated if you need to return an item.

With all 3 stores, Gift Receipts are available. Get them! In my opinion, if you are purchasing a big ticket item for yourself or someone else, take the time to ask for a Gift Receipt. You may ask why you need one if you’re buying for yourself… I call it insurance. With the return policy being what they are, this extra receipt might just come in handy if you lose the main ticket.

If your buying a gift that might be returned, such as: wedding, baby shower, or anniversaries, make sure you get a Gift Receipt. They provide a way the receiver can take back an item without knowing the cost. A win-win situation.

Until I started doing this research, I never knew how important a receipt was. I am so scattered brained that I lose them quite often. Think I will make a note to keep better track of them from here on out.

Are the companies trying to make us better shoppers buy making us keep our receipts? Or are they trying to cut down on stolen items being returned for cash? Another thing that could be happening is, what a better way to make a profit than a policy of no return without a receipt. Whatever their reason, it is clear that little piece of paper means a lot!

The main lesson for me is to keep all receipt for 90 days, then trash them. Get a Gift Receipt on all big ticket items. And make sure I want an item or it is what the person I am buying for wants BEFORE I make the purchase. Truly a buyer beware attitude.

The age of “The customer is always right!” is clearly gone. Everyone is out to make a dime. Being a smart consumer… I’m trying to save mine.