What Should I Know About Online Returns?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 June 2019
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Online returns can take a little extra work than returns made in a store. Many companies that sell products online fully define their online return policy, and it’s a good idea to read this policy in its entirety. Understanding return policy is particularly important when purchasing items that may need to be returned, like clothing or shoes.

Though shopping online can save money, one cost factor people must weigh is whether online returns have the potential to reduce savings. Though there are a few companies that offer free postage to return items, most businesses require people to pay postage for returned items. When this is added to the amount paid to have purchases shipped to a home, it means that online returns may result in losing some of the refunded amount. People may have to sacrifice some of what they paid in order to get back a portion of their money with online returns.


Just as in most retail stores, returning an item doesn’t always mean getting cash (or a credit to a credit card) back. Some policies for online returns will only offer store or site credits. Returns may furthermore be time-limited and if an item isn’t returned in a certain period of time, the store will not accept it or will only offer store credit for it. Additionally, most stores do not accept the return of used items, unless there is a problem with manufacturing that caused the item to break or wear out sooner than it should have.

Many stores on the Internet also have off the net locations that are easy to reach. Most major department stores have extensive online shopping options. Sometimes these companies will allow customers to return items in their stores instead of having to ship them back to the shipping location. There are even a few specialty “stores within stores.” For instance, purchasing clothing or accessories through the Land’s End® website can be a safe bet when people are located near a Sears® department store. Sears will accept returns of Land’s End® catalog or online merchandise because they feature it in their stores, allowing people to save cost of shipping.

As with returns to any type of store, it’s important to keep receipts for items purchased online. Online returns can be much more difficult without them. One way to document purchases is to hold on to emails confirming them. Wise shoppers can set up an email file dedicated to proofs of purchase, so this information is available. Paper and shipping receipts should also be kept as extra backup.



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