You’ve bought something in a shop, only to get home and realize that the item isn’t right for you, after all.
So, you go rummaging through your bags, pockets, and purse to try and find your receipt. But disaster strikes—you can’t find it! Do you have any hope of getting a refund?
It depends on the store and the reason for your return. Let’s take a closer look.
What Does the Law Say?
In almost all countries, retailers are under no obligation to issue a refund simply because you don’t like the color or the way it looks, regardless of whether you have the receipt.
It is a different story for defective goods. In the United States, all states have “Implied Warranty” laws. Implied Warranty is a guarantee that the purchase will work for its intended purpose. If you’ve bought defective products and don’t have the receipt, you can exercise your right to Implied Warranty with a credit card statement. In the UK, even the say-so of a store salesperson is legally sufficient.
But what happens if you simply don’t want the purchase and don’t have the receipt? Retailers are free to set their own rules. They can vary from a full refund to store credit to no rebate at all. Let’s take a look at the returns policy of seven major US retailers.
Macy’s provides refunds for up to 90 days after the date of purchase. It offers a full refund for in-store and online purchases. However, it does have special guidelines for jewelry, floor rugs, mattresses, gourmet food, and furniture.
But can you return something to Macy’s without a receipt?
The answer is yes. Macy’s return policy says it will accept returns without a receipt if the product still has the store’s sticker, or you have a gift card receipt. However, you will only get an in-store credit; you will not get a full refund.
Items purchased at any Macy’s store can be returned to any of its store locations, not just the original location.
Given the large variety of goods that Walmart sells, its refund policy is complicated. In simple terms, Walmart will accept non-receipted returns for a full refund in the US, providing certain conditions are met:
- You can supply a valid government ID.
- You have not claimed more than three non-receipted returns in the previous six months.
- The return date is within 90 days of purchase.
- The value of the item is less than $25.
If the value of the product is more than $25, Walmart will only issue a store gift card.
There are different rules for firearms, pharmacy products, food, gift cards, and hazardous materials.
Target has a generous returns policy, even if you no longer have the receipt.
Firstly, before you head back to the store, remember that if you have a Target account, you can access all your receipts via the online portal. Just print the receipt for the item you want to return, and you won’t have any issues.
However, even if you don’t have an account, Target is still open to issuing full cash refunds. Here’s what the company says in its returns policy:
“We can attempt to look up the receipt for store and Target.com purchases in-store. Bring the item and the method of payment used to Guest Services within the return window allowed for that item.”
The return window is 90 days for most items.
Best Buy’s policy is much vaguer for anyone who’s trying to return an item without a receipt. The official policy says, “Reimbursements on returns lacking proof of purchase may be denied or limited, and state sales tax and fees will not be reimbursed.” In practice, it is down to the manager of each induvial store to make the decision. At best, it you can probably only hope to receive a gift card.
Also, be aware that Best Buy’s returns window is much shorter than many stores. Phones, tablets, and wearables need to be returned within 14 days. All other items are 15 days. Elite members get 30 days for non-mobile purchases.
Almost all items you buy from Home Depot can be returned to the store within 90 days of purchase. Exceptions apply to big-ticket appliances, gift cards, generators, flowers, installation services, and product samples.
Home Depot does accept returns without a receipt as long as you bought the item using a credit card or debit card. The company will find the record of sales in its systems. If you are returning an item to Home Depot without a receipt, you will also need to provide a government ID.
If you’ve been doing some interior design and bought unwanted merchandise from Bed Bath and Beyond, you might be able to get a partial refund, even if you don’t have your receipt.
If you made your purchase in the last year, the company could help as long as you have one of the following things:
- Credit or debit card statement showing the purchase.
- A merchandise credit number.
- A gift card number.
- Your order number.
- A registry number.
- Your checking account number.
Bed Bath and Beyond will not refund opened items without a receipt. For unopened items without a receipt, you will get the sales price minus 20 percent in the form of store credit.
Walgreens has a stricter returns policy than some stores. You only have 30 days to return your item. If you do not have a receipt, the company will only refund you the amount of the lowest advertised price in any of its stores nationwide.
So, for example, if you bought a bottle of shampoo for $10, but a store on the other side of the country is running a special offer of three for the price of one, you would only get $3.33 returned. The refund is issued as a store credit.
It will not refund prescription medication or contact lenses.
Other Tips to Return Merchandise Without a Receipt
As our study shows, most large retail chains are reasonably flexible about refunding purchases without a receipt. You might have more difficulty with small local retailers who don’t have the same amount of infrastructure.
In those cases, there are a few things you can try:
- Provide as much evidence of your purchase as possible.
- Claim that the item was a gift.
- Show a history of loyalty to the store.
- Wait until busy periods where returns are more common such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.