Target's New Return Policy

Target Backs Its Brands With an Extended Return Policy

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Bullseye - Target's Mascot. Jonathan Leibson / Stringer/ Getty

Retailers are constantly looking for ways to beat the competition, which is something that Target managed to do when it announced its new liberal return policy during a time when the retail industry has been tightening the belt on returns.

Target's new return policy allows customers to return select merchandise for up to a year. Considering that the average return time for similar retailers is 90 days, Target's new policy is a game changer.

Why the Change in Policy?

The decision to extend returns to a year was two-fold. First, Target has always tried to present itself as a big-box store that gives boutique-style customer service, yet its policies were typical of discount department stores.

Secondly, it was time for Target to take a hard look at what the competition was doing and how it could compete, but maintain its customer service goals. Knowing that some of its direct competition had more appealing return policies, Target decided it was time to change. With the new policy, Target now competes directly with  Costco Wholesale, which has a "no limit" policy on returns for everything but electronics, which are on a 90-day return window.

How Target's Return Policy Works

At first glance, most customers will be impressed with a one-year return policy, but there are a significant amount of exceptions to the policy. Most importantly, the policy applies solely to Target owned and exclusive brand items, with a few exceptions.

Not all Target merchandise qualifies for the one-year return policy. Shoppers will want to read the policy carefully, before assuming that it applies to their purchase.

Target Owned and Exclusive-Brand Items

Shoppers can bring back Target owned and exclusive brand items, with their receipt, and receive a full refund within one year of the purchase date.

This is an adjustment from the previous 90-day limit. Shoppers paying with the Target's REDcard will receive an additional 30 days.

The problem with the policy is that there are hundreds of items sold at Target that are "owned and exclusive brands." Most shoppers will not know with certainty if the merchandise that they want to return falls under the policy umbrella. Also, Target regularly adds new brands to the list.

Some of the most popular of the Target brands includes: Archer Farms, AVA & VIV, Boots & Barkley, C9 Champion, Chefmate, Cherokee, Circo, Durabuilt, Designed/Distributed by Target (Holiday, Easter, Halloween, etc. seasonal products), Embark, Fieldcrest, Gilligan & O'Malley, Kid Made Modern, Liz Lange, Merona, Mossimo, Mossimo Supply Co., Nate Berkus, ProSpirit, Pure Energy, Room Essentials, Shaun White, Simply Balanced, Smith & Hawken, Sonia Kashuk, Spritz, Sutton & Dodge, Threshold, up & up, Wine Cube, Xhilaration, and Yoobi.

Shoppers can also check the "Brand" web page on the Target website or contact customer services with questions.

Gift Registry Items

Target extended the return period for all Gift Registry items from 90 days to one year. The start date is the date of the event that is listed on the registry when the customer completes the registry form.

Shoppers can return most new, unopened items at any Target store using a gift receipt or their Gifts Purchased List, which can be printed in the store or accessed online.

Target's General Return Policy

The policies on the remaining merchandise have not undergone any noticeable changes. Most items that are unopened and in new condition can be returned within 90 days for a refund or exchange. Having a receipt for the merchandise is the only way to receive a refund. Without it, customers will only be able to exchange the merchandise for an exact exchange or the current selling price.

Exceptions to the 90-Day Policy

Below is a partial list of exceptions to the 90-day return policy. For all questions regarding Target's return policy, visit the FAQ page at Target.com.

  • Electronics and entertainment items are limited to a 30-day return window. Shoppers will receive a refund or exchange. Drones must be returned within 14 days for a refund or exchange.
  • Music, movies, video games and software that has been opened cannot be returned but may be exchanged for the same title and the same or different gaming platform.
  • Open airbeds cannot be returned but may be exchanged for a similar item.
  • Open or defective collectibles (e.g., sports cards, special edition Barbie dolls, porcelain dolls, action figures and die-cast cars) cannot be returned.
  • All items purchased with a carrier contract at a Target store must be returned or exchanged within 14 days and may be subject to early termination fees per carrier contract. Contract items and carrier plans must be sold and returned by a Target Mobile Rep. Target Mobile Rep hours vary by store. 
  • Holiday items and limited-time-only collections may have modified return policies.
  • Purchases made at Optical, Pharmacy, Starbucks and Target Mobile must be returned or exchanged at these areas.
  • Target Mobile Gift Cards and Target eGiftCards cannot be returned or redeemed for cash or credit except where required by law.
  • Digital music downloads cannot be returned or refunded.
  • Gasoline powered items such as lawnmowers can only be returned to a Target store and must be completely emptied of hazardous substances such as gasoline or oil at the time of return.

The Return Policy When You Pay With REDcard

When customers pay for merchandise using the REDcard, they will receive an extra 30 days to return nearly all items. This does not include returns on mobile purchases, for purchases that have a fixed return date, or for non-returnable items.

Bottom-Line on the Target's New Return Policy

Target's new return policy sends a message to customers that the company stands behind its brands. The confusion of not knowing which brands are owned by Target could be confusing, but shoppers can always ask an employee.