Friday, August 19, 2011

Store Makeup and Skincare Return Policy Guide (with a surprise at the end!)

As a pseudo-blogger (and person with bad skin), I occasionally find myself buying products I'm not sure will work for me (see: cleanser fiascos).  It's always awesome when stores let me return stuff I don't like, but it's hard to keep track of what different stores' policies are.  So, for my own benefit, and hopefully yours as well, I decided to write this post outlining the return policies of several chains.  I hope you find it informative, and that it can help make your purchasing decisions a little less stressful!
There are a few important parameters to be established for each store.  Unless otherwise noted, the stores accept opened/used makeup and beauty products.  I make note of the following: how long you can return items with a receipt, without a receipt, what form the refund comes in, as well as any differences in return policies for online purchases versus in-store.  And here they are, in order of generosity of return policy, as determined by me:

With receipt: 90 days for full refund/exchange
Without receipt: 3 returns w/o receipt within a 45 day period accepted; cash refund for purchases less than $25, Walmart card for purchases over $25
Some beauty items may need to be in original packaging, but I'm not clear on exactly what (perfume definitely, though).
Lesson: Walmart is a great place to return makeup and beauty products, with or without a receipt!  Too bad they're evil.

Fred Meyer
With receipt: 180 days full refund
Without receipt: Can return 3 items w/o receipts in a 180-day period with ID; cash back for purchases under $5, Fred Meyer gift card for purchases over $5
Lesson: Keep receipts for easy returns, but don't fret if you lose it, as long as that doesn't become a regular occurrence!

Department Stores (Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, etc.)
Most department stores accept returns, used or otherwise, with receipt, for 90-180 days after purchase. If you don't have your receipt, but used a card to purchase, you can often get a refund if they can find your order in their system.
Lesson: If you like shopping in-person, department stores are a great way to both try makeup before hand (testers!) and return products that don't work with minimal fuss.

Bloom takes back any products, used or otherwise, for 365 days after purchase. You have to email them to get a prepaid return slip and include your original order confirmation (which should be in your email) in the package, and you're supposed to return any free gifts you received as well (otherwise, they will charge your card for the amount the gift normally costs; in some cases, it's a better deal to just keep everything!).
Lesson: You've got a year to return any products that don't work for you, no questions asked, though you'll have to return any free gifts you got.

Sephora, in store purchase
With receipt: 60 days for full refund in same form as original payment (charge returned on credit card, cash for debit, gift card if store credit or gift card was used); 90 days for full refund in store credit
Without receipt: I believe it's the same as above, as long as you used a card to make your purchase, and have the same card with you purchase (note: you can return online purchases to a standing store or Sephora in JCPenney [though you must have the card used to make purchase if you want a refund; you don't need the card for exchanges] or by using the free return slip and sending it back by mail)
With order summary and return slip (included in original package): 60 days for full refund to your card, 90 days for store credit
Without order summary and return slip: Unlikely to be returnable, though having your card may suffice
Lesson: Keep your Sephora receipts, and you've got 2 months to play around with your product and return it for a full refund (3 months if you're okay with store credit).

Rite Aid
With receipt: Apparently no time limit on returns/exchanges, which is nice; I've returned things to Rite Aid with my receipt and had no trouble
Without receipt: Returns not accepted (as far as I can tell)
Lesson: Keep your receipts, and all is well; lose them, and you're SOL (shit outta luck, and hey, that rhymed!).

With receipt: 30 days for full refund
Without receipt: SOL
Lesson: Keep receipts, and you've got a month; lose receipts, and whoops.

With receipt: Returns accepted at the discretion of the store, and refund is usually given as a gift card/store credit, but exchanges are fine (unsure of time frame)
Without receipt: SOL.
Lesson: Harder to return with a receipt than at Rite Aid or CVS, but possible, so hold on to your receipts!

Ulta (please note: I've never actually shopped at Ulta, but I must assume that someone out there has...if that's you, give me a holler!)
With receipt/packing slip: 60 days for full refund, after that store credit is given; must return all free items received at the same time (this may include the 3 free samples you get when you order, I'm not sure) to get cash or credit refunded, otherwise you get store credit (also: like Sephora, Ulta offers free return shipping for anything you don't want)
Without receipt: SOL.
Lesson: Keep your receipt and all those cute little freebies if you're not sure a product will work for you, though you can still get store credit without the latter.

Amazon (online only, so receipt is assumed)
30 days with complimentary return shipping; makeup can be used/opened, but I'm not sure about skincare (and I believe this only applies to products bought from Amazon and not one of the numerous other stores and merchants that sell on Amazon)
Lesson: Makeup is a safer bet than skincare from Amazon, as long as you're buying directly from Amazon; check with individual merchants' policies for how to do returns to them. (also online only, so receipt assumed)
Returns can be made within 30 days using the complimentary return slip as long as they are unopened/unused or fall under the makeup 100% guarantee (products that fall under this category have a little "100% color guarantee!" logo on their page)
Lesson: Either buy something you know you'll like, or something covered by the 100% color guarantee, because opened/used products aren't generally accepted back.

With receipt: Unopened/unused can be returned within 90 days; if you've used the product, returns are accepted at the discretion of the store, but saying it irritated you in some way generally works (according to the intertubes)
Without receipt: SOL.
Lesson: Be sure you want what you buy at Target, because returns can be a hassle.  Keep your receipt if you're not sure it will work out, and even then, there's no guarantee.

Summary (and yes, this is bold AND italicized AND underlined because it's so super important)
Walmart is the winner, but Fred Meyer is close behind, as both accept returns without receipts.  Target is the worst for returns, because there's no official policy, and not even saying something irritated you is guaranteed to work (much less if you just disliked the color!).  The big drugstores (Rite Aid, Walgreens, CVS) all accept returns with receipts, though Walgreens often only gives store credit, and CVS has a 30 day limit.  Now, I'm not saying you should always shop at Walmart and never at Target, because that would be ridiculous (especially since I never shop at Walmart on principle), and return policies are only one piece of the picture of what a shopping experience somewhere is like.  Low prices, weekly sales, reward programs, and product selection all matter, too, but I hope that this guide will help you keep at least this one part straight!

Now, if you've actually read all the way down here (or just happened to have looked down at the bottom of the post to see how ridiculously long it is), I have a little present for you!  The afore-promised video of Bandit the Sugar Glider eating a mealworm:
I really want a Yumm bowl, but all the Cafe Yumms are closed...must run errands tomorrow, though, and I can pick some up while I'm out!  Yummy.  What food are you craving?
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