On Monday, Consumer Reports published its first Naughty and Nice Holiday List. The input came from reporters and editors and covered shopping, travel, hospitality, and telecommunications, and identifies some good and some frowned upon shopping policies of 20 popular organizations. Their reports are not reflective of a company as a whole and were not based on specific policies.
"Our goal isn't to laud one company or put down another, but to call out specific policies that we think put consumers first or put them behind the eight ball," stated Tod Marks, senior editor and resident shopping expert at Consumer Reports.
The following companies were praised:
- Zappos.com for their free shipping and return policies.
- L.L. Bean for their 100 percent product satisfaction guarantee. Anything can be returned anytime for any reason.
- Wal-Mart for their return policy refunding cash (for purchases under $25), gift cards (for purchases over $25), or an even exchange. There is one caveat however; more than three returns within 45 days require a manager's approval.
- Costco for returning everything in the store except for some home electronics which comes with a 90-day return guarantee.
- Orvis which offers a toll-free number without a complicated, automated menu system. Also Orvis offers live chats, email questions, and a guaranteed response time of two hours or less.
- Publix offers some antibiotics for free.
And for the naughty, these are some of the companies Consumer Reports criticized:
- Best Buy for offering only a 14-day return period for computers, monitors, camcorders, and digital cameras.
- Verizon Wireless for doubling to $350 the early termination fee if a customer cancels their smartphone subscription after the 30-day grace period.
- Macy's Department Stores for shipping charges based on the dollar amount of the order, not the size and weight of the package.
- CompUSA for charging restocking fees of "up to 25 percent" of the purchase price on any product that doesn't meet its return criteria.
- Buy.com which does not allow returns for "oversized" televisions which are defined as any model 27 inches or larger. Their website does not offer a customer service phone number.
Bringing attention to both the helpful and hurtful practices to consumers is a positive step. So often the holiday shopping frenzy can cloud a buyer's perspective under the tempting cloak of the word "sale." It's after something goes awry that many consumers ever bother to read the fine print of guarantees, warranties, return policies, and refunds. Here's hoping that the "naughty" stores have a change of their policies too.
For all of the kind readers of Service Untitled, we thank you for reading and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.