Returning online purchases in-store

By Mir
October 26, 2009

The holiday season is fast upon us, and Daisy writes:

Kohls allows customers to return online purchases to the store. Does Old Navy do the same?

The short answer is, “Yes.” The long answer is, “Sort of.”

Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a single store where you can shop both online and in-person where online purchases cannot be returned to the store. (Someone please correct me if you know of an exception.) (Check the comments! Smart, pretty commenters are filling me in!) So, yes, anywhere you buy online, if they have a brick and mortar store, you can do straight returns without a problem.

The “maybe” factor comes in if you want to do exchanges rather than returns. While I’ve never exchanged an item at Kohls (generally I’m buying clearance, which means they probably don’t have it at the store, anyway), I used to exchange sizes for my kids at Old Navy. And the last time I tried to do that, they tried to charge me more for the same item in a different size, because the online price was different. I (politely) argued my point, but they wouldn’t budge. And that, sadly, is becoming more commonplace (and to your specific question, Daisy, Gap is owned by the same folks who own Old Navy). It should all be linked via one giant computer, and you should be able to do that stuff… but sometimes you can’t.

So: Returns, yes. Exchanges, possibly but not always.


  1. American Girl will NOT take online returns in store.

  2. Disney Store and Vera Bradley will not.

  3. Ah, well there’s three stores already (I don’t have any of those stores locally, so you pretty ladies are a huge help). Thank you!

  4. I have also had trouble with Eddie Bauer returning online sales purchases. However, it doesn’t stop me from shopping at EB, they’ve got me hooked.

  5. Also, if you buy plus size clothing from Old Navy, you can’t return it to the store. I believe this is because most of the Old Navy stores don’t carry plus size clothes in their stores…

  6. I had this happen just this week actually! Old Navy says it will accept online order returns at their stores…until you read the fine print on your invoice, which states “**items marked with ‘mail only’ can only be returned via mail” or something to that affect! My advice would be to go read your invoice carefully, get out yourfine tooth comb if it helps! 🙂 My item did NOT say ‘maily only’, so I am going to give it a shot and return it to my nearest store, which is 3 hours away and see what happens! (Obviously, I will be going to that nearest store soon, and am not making a special trip! That would deserve some heckling from wantnot readers!)

  7. I was going to mention what LisaBug said–some items on, and are “Online Only” and cannot be returned to stores. I actually think it’s pretty easy to find out whether something’s online only or not, though, if you remember to look! 🙂

  8. It has been my experience in general that if an item is ONLY sold online, it is not accepted as a return OR exchange at the brick store. It is my specific experience at the retail outlet I work p/t that this is the case. Also, as far as prices go, many stores have special pricing online that is designed specifically to drive online business, and those prices are NOT honored in the stores either for sale or return/ exchange. ‘Most’ of the time pricing is marked as such by something along the lines of “Online Price”, or “Internet Price”… which is different from, say, “Online Only” which would (for the most part) refer to the item itself.
    Obviously everyone is different, and everyone changes their policies, and everyone gives their store management a certain amount of leeway to handle these situations. Hope it helps a little!

  9. You can’t return Victoria’s Secret to the store.

    The way I get around the whole exchange thing is to order several sizes of the item I want, choose the one that fits, and take the others back to the store.

  10. I was coming to post about VS! VS online division is owned by a different subsidiary than their retail stores. Out local VS stores will not accept ANY online returns.

    Vera Bradley ONLINE does not have an “exchange” policy, you must return and repurchase item.

    Also, some Target items cannot be returned in store.

  11. I agree that some Target items cannot be returned to the store. However, they are clearly marked online as such before you purchase. As for Eddie Bauer, I have never had trouble returning items purchased online to the store. Recently I had success EXCHANGING (for size), jeans I purchased from Justice that Mir had posted about that were BOGO and then an extra discount. I thought I would have to just return them because they were such a good online deal, but didn’t fit. But lo’ and behold they said I could do an even exchange! YIPEE!

  12. A little bit off the subject but helpful none the less, when you order from 6pm, which I have been doing quite frequently because Mir always posts the good deals, you can not exchange for a different size. You have to return and repurchase the item, which most likely is not on sale anymore, since they have the special one days sales. My feet are a different size with different brands, so I suggest if you are in the same boat, buy a few sizes and return the ones that don’t fit. That way you get to keep your deal.

  13. I recently returned something to Old Navy that I had bought online. I wanted to exchange for a different size, and the gave me an even exchange…no questions asked!

  14. Gap and Old Navy maternity clothes must be returned by mail. But then the return is free.

  15. I want to post a place that makes returns *super* easy – Land’s End. I called after trying on some items where I didn’t like the fit or color to order them in the size and color I wanted and they shipped me replacements free, while I took the stuff I wanted to return to Sears, no hassle. They even asked if there was anything else I’d like to add to the “free” shipment. I had 24 hours to think about it and do so.

  16. I also think you can’t return Old Navy maternity items in-store? It’s been a little while, and I NEVER INTEND TO NEED MATERNITY CLOTHES AGAIN. At any rate, I think that the ON website does a good job of clearly marking the online-only items.

    The exchange issue is another thing entirely, and I do not understand why stores have such issues w/ even exchanges. Although it worked out to my benefit at Macy’s once; was exchanging a sweater gotten as a baby shower gift for the next winter’s size, and it had gone on clearance from when my friend bought it. So Macy’s gave me a gift card for the extra $$!

  17. You can’t return maternity clothes purchased online to Old Navy/Gap or Ann Taylor Loft stores. ON/Gap used to do return shipping free to make up for this but now it’s $6.00. It’s a bummer, because it’s impossible to know what fits without trying it on, (buy your pre-pregnancy size my FOOT) and ordering, then re-shipping constantly is a hassle. Some stores that only sell maternity online will allow in-store returns, though (Nordstrom, that king of customer service, for example).

  18. I will also add to be mindful of how long it is before you return an Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic item in store. I’d taken longer than normal to do so due to a move and was almost not able to. It’s not noted on the packing slip/receipt that comes with the purchases, but online when you order (ugh!). Anyway, the Old Navy and Gap folks said the return policy is 45 days for mail orders and BR said it’s 30 days. I happened to have made it to each store on the 45th day, but all eventually returned the items. Their registers weren’t happy though, as in-store purchases must be returned within 30 days and that’s what they are set up for. A manager had to override at each store.

  19. Gap is starting to make some things online only, and I was told you cannot return those to the store.

  20. Justice is great about returns–they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and no time limit on if you buy ahead save your receipts and if it doesn’t fit they will return with no hassle! Also, Children’s Place is great with in store returns from online purchases! Gymboree takes them as well but there is a time limit (I think 60 days). For adults I love Lands End/Sears, Costco, and LL Bean for in store returns of online items, no questions asked!

    However, is awful–they have competely different item numbers for in store vs. online, can’t process returns in store on weekends as they have to call the call center and it’s closed…will never shop there again since it’s to much hassle and bras often need to be returned!

  21. I have had some luck returning online orders to a B&M EB, but it’s been at least a year since I did that.

  22. Talbots and Ann Taylor have both taken my “online only” returns without any problem at all.

  23. I just returned an online purchase to Target yesterday, they took it no problem but you have to print out the return authorization from their website.

  24. I had such a hard time with Pottery Barn. When I got married, (almost 3 years ago), I registered there. I received some doubles and some things we didn’t register for that didn’t really go with our house or taste. So, I went to the store to return them. I waited almost an hour while they figured it out. They were able to return it in store, but then the store itself had to mail out the items and wait for a credit from PB online. Then, six to eight weeks later, I received a gift card in the mail. Kind of ridiculous and not mentioned anywhere in the “REGISTER WITH US” packet of info.

  25. Every shopping website should have a returns policy posted somewhere on their site. Usually it is at the bottom of the home page under “Customer Service”. I always check there when I order from a website and might be returning the item to a B&M.
    *However* we all know that what it says and what the B&M clerks try to do is sometimes a different story. Maybe print out the returns policy page and bring it with you?

  26. I just want to add to Jessica’s comment. You can return Land’s End clothes to any Sears store that carries Land’s End clothes. If your local sears is a hardware only type store like mine is, then they won’t take LE returns.

    And that Gap/ON return policy is 45 days from date of *purchase*. Not the date it ships or arrives at your house.

  27. Is the American Girl policy new? Last December I returned a new doll I’d bought online to the store. They took it without a problem. (It was unopened.)

  28. Thanks — Mir and all! I’m looking at clothes for my daughter, and I think I’ll just get her a gift card and send her the sale ads and codes. 🙂
    My next dilemma; I’d like to get her a sewing machine. Suggestions? Mir? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  29. One more point about Old Navy… purchased a coat online. Didn’t fit, so I returned it to a B&M Old Navy store – where they only refunded my purchase price. NOT the shipping. Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have ordered online.

  30. I might be a manager at a store. It might rhyme with…um… Mold Gravy?…and lawd Jesus, I might hate dealing with online returns. But I might have advice for you. As far as doing exchanges from online, Mir, the computers aren’t set up for us to be able to exchange things for you. So we have to do the return, refund the money to your card, and then charge you again. It’s really irritating and confusing to the customers. Since the promotions online are different from the ones in store, we aren’t supposed to give you the same price. But! It’s up to the manager’s discretion, so it’s worth asking. (Nicely. Most managers aren’t going to do anything for you if you start screaming and carrying on!)(Not that I think you would do such a thing.)

    @Nicole–Mold Gravy cannot refund the shipping fee in stores–the computers aren’t set up to do it. If you were to receive a defective item or you were sent the wrong item by mistake, you can deal with the 1-800 number and they will refund it for you.

    If you do have to send things back Mold Gravy does include a shipping label in their online purchases. If you are having a problem in the store I recommend asking for a manager very nicely, but often we are hamstrung by the policies, so remember that we don’t make the rules, we just have to enforce them. Above all things–the person behind the counter is a human being. Be nice to them…it will get you much farther.

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