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Return Policies of Major Retailers

Store rules vary for deadlines, fees, receipts

With a number of stores tightening their return policies this holiday season, here are the requirements of some major retailers:

Amazon: 30-day deadline for unopened books, CDs, DVDs, video games and software; partial refund after 30 days on other items. Kindle e-book reading devices cannot be returned after one-month trial ends.

Best Buy: 14 days for computers, monitors, projectors, camcorders, digital cameras and radar detectors; 30 days for other products with original receipt and photo ID. A 15 percent restocking fee will be charged for opened notebook computers, projectors, camcorders and other products, 25 percent charge for returned special orders and appliances.

Costco: Open-ended time on most items, with 90-day window for cash refunds on TVs, projectors, computers, cameras and other electronic products. A receipt is not required because a membership card is linked to every purchase, but members have to make the returns.

Home Depot: 90 days for most items; 30 days for air conditioners, gas-powered equipment and holiday decorations. Receipts may not be necessary if payment was by check, credit card or debit card. Holiday trees and plants are not returnable; special orders and their cancellation before delivery are subject to a 15 percent restocking fee.

Kohl's: No time limit with a receipt; without a receipt you may be given a replacement product, store credit, a refund or a credit to a Kohl's charge account. Online purchases must be returned by mail using the Return & Exchange form that came with the order.

Sears: 90 days on most items and 30 days for home electronics, mattresses, air conditioners, gas-powered equipment and other products, with a receipt or e-mail confirmation of the purchase and with original packaging. There is a 15 percent restocking fee on electronics returned without the original box or lacking accessories. It also applies to such products as mattresses, big appliances and sporting goods.

Target: 90 days with receipt unless purchase was with a check or a credit, debit or gift card; items must be unused and with original packaging. A 15 percent restocking fee applies to portable electronics.

Toys "R" Us: 90 days for most items with receipt and 45 days for certain other items, including unopened video games and music. Receipt or online packing slip required. Items purchased online but returned to stores are refunded with credit for merchandise.

Wal-Mart: 90 days for most items; 15 for camcorders, digital cameras and computers. Returns without receipts are accepted, but more than three returns in 45 days will require a manager's approval.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about health and consumer issues.

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