Black Friday 2013: Return policies you need to know before shopping for the holidays

We’ve all been there.

You see a lot of good deals, you throw a few things in your cart, and before you know it, you’ve tripled the budget you set for yourself.

So in case you feel that morning-after retail regret this Black Friday, here’s a breakdown of the return policies from major stores you need to know:

-- Best Buy

Best Buy has an “Extended Holiday Return Policy,” which means if you buy something between Nov. 3 and Dec. 31, you have until Jan. 31 to return it.

Computers, however, are not covered by this special policy -- you only get 14 days to return one.

And here’s something really important to remember: There's a 15% restocking fee on opened electronics.

-- Walmart

Walmart also has a holiday return policy special. All electronics purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 have to be returned by Jan. 10. Normally, Walmart gives you 15 days to return electronics.

Non-electronic items purchased during that period must be returned by Jan. 25.

Make sure you save your receipt. If you come without one, Walmart will only give cash back for anything you bought that’s under $25. For anything more than $25, you only get store credit.

-- Target

If you buy an item between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25, Target's holiday return policy lets you return an unopened item for a full refund or exchange until Jan. 24. If you go past that date, you’re allowed to return up to $70 of merchandise within one year without a receipt.

All returns of items bought on Black Friday will be refunded at the clearance price, but a 15 percent restocking fee is added to some electronics.

Anything purchased online can also be returned at a physical store. If you don’t have a receipt, you need to show a valid ID.

-- Staples

Staples is less lenient when it comes to returning items bought on Black Friday. Electronics like computers and phones must be returned within 14 days.

Any software you bought can be returned at any time, as long as it's not open and still sold by Staples. If the software is open, you can only exchange it for the same software.

And make sure you bring a receipt. Without one, you only have the option of getting in-store credit for you return. And the amount of money you get back is based on the lowest selling price within the last 30 days.

-- Amazon

Anything you buy on Amazon.com that was shipped between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 can be returned for a full refund if you do it by Jan. 31.

But there’s a catch. To get that full refund, media (DVDs, music, games, etc.) has to be unopened and electronics have to be in mint condition in the original packaging.

And just because you bought something on Amazon.com doesn’t mean you bought it from Amazon. The popular site has thousands of third-party “marketplace sellers.” So before you purchase an item, check to see if it’s sold through one of these sellers. If so, make sure to ask them what their return policy is.

-- Radio Shack

Unlike other big retailers, Radio Shack does not offer a special holiday return policy.

Buy an item from Radio Shack on Black Friday and you only get 30 days to get your money back. That means if you’re buying a Christmas gift, the recipient only has four days to return it.

Items bought on RadioShack.com also fall under a 30-day return window – but not every item can be returned to a physical Radio Shack store. Make sure you call and ask first.

-- PetSmart

PetSmart will give you a full refund for up to 60 days after your purchase – as long as you have the receipt.

After that 60-day window -- or for returns without a receipt – you only get in-store credit. The amount of credit you get back is based on the most recent sale price of the item you’re returning.

-- Toys R Us

Toys R Us will accept returns made within 90 days of the purchase date for most items, as long as you have your receipt.

Items must be returned in new or like-new condition, and they must be in the original packaging with all the paperwork (manuals, assembly instructions, etc.) to get a full refund.

Toys R Us says it “reserves the right to refuse any returns if they do not meet our return requirements,” so keep that in mind.

-- Sears

Sears has one of the best holiday return policies, with a return window of up to 120 days after the date of purchase.

There are some exceptions, though. Electronics must be returned before 60 days and fine jewelry has to be brought back before 90 days.

If you have any questions about a specific store’s return policies this holiday season, make sure to call them and ask before you buy.

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