Stores have also become more persnickety about receipts. Last summer, Target changed its policy to allow for two receiptless returns a year of items less than $20. Before that the threshold was $100.Kmart, Lowe's, and Wal-Mart are among the retailers that now use computer systems to monitor how often customers return items without sales slips. If you bring back too many within a given period, the store might stop accepting them. Some retailers say they're trying to prevent returns of stolen goods.
Handle with care. Lost tags, missing packaging, or damaged boxes make it less likely you'll get your due. Amazon.com says it won't accept returns of products missing the serial number or UPC square on the box. Best Buy and Circuit City charge a 15 percent restocking fee on some electronic items whether or not you've opened the box. But you should not have to pay a restocking fee if the item was defective when you unwrapped it.
Go to the right place. If the item was purchased by mail order or on the Internet, make sure you send it to the address the retailer specifies. The retailer might also have a location near you that takes mail-order returns. Sears, for instance, accepts Lands' End returns at its stores. But Macy's and Kohl's, which sell online and in stores, don't accept returns by mail if the merchandise was purchased in a store.