Naughty or Nice–Which list are you on Retailers?

by Deepak Sharma on Wednesday, November 24, 2010

imageWal-Mart does make the cut in Nice lists sometime. Just in time for the holidays, Consumer Reports has released a list of 10 companies that it believes have been naughty to shoppers, and 10 that have been nice. The list is not derived from any exhaustive Consumer Reports study or survey. Rather, it’s based on input from Consumer Reports in-house reporters and editors, who cover shopping, travel, hospitality, telecommunications, and other franchise areas.

Consumer Reports notes that the Naughty & Nice Holiday List is not an exhaustive list and that just because the list mention a particular policy doesn’t mean Consumer Reports endorse—or dislike—everything else about that company or the way it does business.

Retailers in the Nice List:

2 L.L.Bean. 100 percent product satisfaction guarantee. Return anything at any time for any reason.

3 Free shipping and free returns, including prepaid return label.

4 Costco. Open-ended return policy for virtually everything the warehouse retailer sells minus some home electronics, which come with a still-generous 90-day return period.

6 Orvis. For customer service the old-fashioned way, shoppers can call a toll-free number and speak to a human being without wading through an arcane automated menu system. Alternatively, Orvis offers live-chat with support staff, e-mail queries, and a guaranteed response time of two hours or less.

8 J&R. The electronics superstore and e-retailer has a straightforward price-match policy without the many caveats and fine-print exclusions of some other merchants: Find it at a lower price at an authorized seller (the exception being a warehouse membership club) and “we will do everything possible to meet or beat that price” via a special telephone hotline. J&R also gives customers 30 days to ask for a price adjustment on existing orders if they unearth a lower price.

9 Walmart. No receipt, no problem. Customers can return most items to a Walmart store for a cash refund (for purchases under $25), a gift card (for purchases over $25), or even exchange. There’s one catch: More than three such returns within 45 days requires a manager’s approval.

10 Publix. It’s no fun being sick, but if you need an antibiotic, the Florida-based supermarket chain will have its pharmacies dispense up to a 14-day supply for some of the most common generic ones free. All you need is a proper prescription.

Retailers in the Naughty List:

1 No returns for “oversize” TV sets, defined as any model 27 inches or larger. If you fail to inspect set upon delivery and sign shipper’s release, says it’s your problem and go deal with the manufacturer. Its website also lacks a phone number for customer contact.

2 CompUSA. For imposing unusually punitive restocking fees of “up to 25 percent” of the purchase price on any product the retailer decides doesn’t meet its return criteria. Nowhere is it spelled out which specific products are subject to such a fee.

3 Best Buy. Offers a 14-day grace period to return computers, monitors, camcorders, and digital cameras.

8 Macy’s. Proving that high shipping fees are not necessarily a thing of the past, the department store chain calculates its freight charges on the dollar amount of the order, not the size and weight of the package. The base fee is $5.95 for orders under $25, to as much as $23.95 for those $300 or more. And that’s standard delivery.

What do you think of these practices?