A Guide to Retailer Return Policies

NEW YORK (MainStreet) - According the National Retail Federation (NRF), return fraud this holiday season is expected to increase by 34%, with retailers projected to lose an estimated $3.68 billion to customers’ dirty dealings.

While this may sound like bad news for retailers, it's also bad news for consumers who now face more stringent return policies as they try to exchange unwanted holiday gifts. To let you know what you may be (literally) in store for, MainStreet rounded up the retailers with the trickiest return policies.

Best Buy

The electronics retailer allows purchases made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 to be returned through Jan. 31, 2011. While this appears to be an extension of the retailer’s standard policy, which requires that most purchases be returned 30 days after the purchase to be eligible for a cash refund, it's full of exclusions. Desktop notebooks, netbooks and tablet computers, for example, still must be returned either 14 days from the date they were purchased in-store or 14 days from the date they were received if they were ordered online. Those who return online purchases are responsible for shipping costs.

You also can't return phone cards, iTunes prepaid music cards, Napster gift cards, consumable items such as food, drinks and batteries or items that have been damaged or abused. No refunds are made on labor or installation services and any opened, defective computer software, movies, music and video games can only be exchanged for the identical item. Those who need help sorting through the exemptions in Best Buy's holiday return policy may call 1-888-237-8289.

Amazon.com

Similarly to Best Buy, Amazon is allowing purchases shipped between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 to be returned until Jan. 31, 2011, for a full refund. However, most electronics, including unopened computers, cameras and televisions, must be returned within 30 days of delivery to receive a cash refund.

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