If you try returning something to Target without a receipt, there’s the retailer’s posted 90-day return policy and then there’s its unwritten return policy.
According to the posted policy, you’re simply out of luck if you don’t have a receipt and Target can’t verify the purchase through its electronic “receipt look-up” system, as might be the case if you paid cash or received the item as a gift.
But for items costing up to $20, there’s another “hidden” option that you won’t see on the store’s posted return policy. Customers can get store credit, provided they show a driver’s license or other government-issued identification and haven’t already used this option twice during the year. This option actually has been around awhile, although it initially allowed no-receipt returns for items valued up to $100, an amount subsequently reduced to $40, and reduced again last year to $20.
“It is something we look at as an accommodation above and beyond the policy," says Target spokesman David Fransen. "It’s not publicized or advertised.”
We wonder why Target simply doesn’t tell shoppers this. Even better, we wonder why it doesn’t adopt the no-hassle policy of its largest competitor, Wal-Mart. Customers who return products to Wal-Mart without a receipt can get a store credit, even for high-priced purchases. And for purchases of less than $25, customers have the option of taking cash. As with Target, Wal-Mart’s return policy is 90 days for most products, although it’s shorter for computers, digital cameras and camcorders, and some other electronics. What’s more, Wal-Mart recently loosened its return policy for holiday gifts that fall under the shorter return policy. The return period starts on Dec. 26, even if the gift was purchased as early as Nov. 15.
But even Wal-Mart has its limits. If you return more than three items without a receipt within 45 days, transactions will need to be approved by a manager, and your account will be flagged for the next six months. The flag will disappear if there are no more returns during that time period.—Anthony Giorgianni, Consumer Reports Magazine