We’re getting close to Black Friday and the official start of holiday shopping.  This year, more people than ever will be shopping online for their gifts.  Because online merchants have different policies, it pays to read the fine print before you buy.  Read on for more…

Some stores only give a 30-day holiday return “grace” period, which means recipients can’t return purchases after Christmas. Happily, some merchants are changing these deadlines for the holidays but, because there are websites who truly believe “fineprint” means “itsy bitsy print in a very pale pastel,” FreeShipping.org compiled a list of major e-retailers and their return policies for 2011. Here are some of the more popular ones; you can find the entire list at the FreeShipping.org website.

Ann Taylor
You’ve got 60 days to return Ann Taylor purchases but, if you don’t have the receipt, only a store credit is issued. Gifts returned online will result in an e-gift certificate, so be sure to include your e-mail address on the return receipt. An in-store gift return yields a hardcopy gift certificate in the amount paid by the sender.

Bath & Body Works
Because Bath and Body Works believes “no sale is ever final,” they don’t need to extend their holiday deadline. You don’t need a sales receipt or shipping invoice for gifts, but they can only be returned to brick-and-mortar Bath and Body Works stores.

Best Buy
Enjoy Best Buy free shipping now through Dec. 27, and return gift purchases — with no exclusions — from Nov. 13 through Jan. 4th. The electronics behemoth is spreading the holiday cheer even further by removing restocking fees for all products, including special orders, within this timeframe.

Return any item, anytime, for any reason. Have your receipt? You’ll get a full refund or even exchange. No receipt? No problem. Kohl’s will give you a refund, an exchange or store credit.

Lands’ End
Now through Nov. 15, enjoy Lands’ End free shipping plus take 25% off your purchase. For returns without an exchange, use the return label for a flat shipping fee of $6.95. You also can return your order to any Sears or Lands’ End store and entirely avoid shipping costs.

The return deadline for Macy’s is a generous 180 days and you don’t need a receipt because they have a program that identifies products in their system. Too cool! Gifts will receive a store credit or exchange. Please note the deadline for jewelry purchases is only 30 days.

You can return or exchange most store items with a receipt within 90 days of purchase. Visit walmartstores.com to see exceptions for electronic and regulated items. You can return online purchases to any Walmart store.

Another great shoe deal: Zappos free shipping is good both for purchases and returns. Whether you’re unhappy with a purchase or simply change your mind, Zappos will provide a full refund or exchange within 365 days of purchase. You’ll need the original packaging, however, to make the return.

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