Overstock Return Policy

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This online vendor issues only partial refunds for all open items, a policy that seems punitive compared with others that typically impose similar restrictions on only a select few product categories. Overstock gives holiday gift buyers and recipients a bit of breathing room by extending its standard 30-day return period into January 2014.

The return policy at online vendor Overstock is the most stringent among the general merchandise retailers we researched. On the upside, the Overstock return policy includes an extension for merchandise purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24. These items can be returned until Jan. 31.

On the downside, the standard return policy provides for a comparatively short 30 days to initiate a return in order to receive a full refund. Additionally, returns must arrive in the vendor's processing facility within 45 days of the original delivery. Items returned after the 30-day deadline are eligible for only a partial refund.

If you're at all unsure about your intentions, don't unwrap the packaging -- the Overstock return policy provides for refunds up to only 70 percent for packaging that's been opened. Policies like this make sense for media that can be copied, for example, or clothing that can be worn and then sent back. But for other types of merchandise -- home goods, for example -- attributes such as quality, texture, and hand feel are rarely apparent through the packaging, making them difficult to judge without opening. It may be that Overstock's restrictive return policy reflects its history as a discount seller of surplus and out-of-season items. Shoppers may score a win with the online vendor's cheap prices even if they lose out with its return policy.

Returning an item requires logging onto your Overstock account and inputting the order number on the packing slip. Overstock issues refunds only to the original purchaser. It was unclear (to us, at least) how gifts could be returned by the recipient even when following the step-by-step instructions. We called Overstock for help and a customer service representative said gift recipients simply need the order number; if that is unavailable, customer service can trace it using the shipping address. From that point, you can stick with the online return process to claim an exchange.

Overstock applies some common return policy rules. For example, there's no sending back items that come in contact with bodily fluids. The site does not refund return shipping charges and only rarely reimburses customers for initial shipping fees. The vendor has no retail locations, so all exchanges and returns must be handled by mail.

Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a freelance personal finance writer who specializes in credit, debt, and practical money-saving tips. He loves stacking savings opportunities to get amazing deals, traveling for free using credit card rewards, and teaching others how to do the same. Connect with Louis by visiting louisdenicola.com.

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