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Best and worst return policies online

Boy, do I wish I had read the December 2009 issue of ShopSmart magazine before I bought a pair of shoes online earlier this month.

To be honest, there are few things I like to buy online, but I got caught up in the excitement of a sale and impulsively purchased a pair of shoes --- which don't fit (of course). I know that I need to return them, but between paying for shipping them to me and shipping them back, I'll have paid more than $10 for the privilege of trying them on.

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Basically, the lesson I've learned: it's never enough to check the base price when shopping online. Always factor in shipping charges --- including sending back returns. There are several shoe sites that offer free return shipping --- why didn't I patronize one of them? 

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... Amazon.com, which restricts computer returns to 30 days and charges restocking fees for fine jewelry and computers, as well as Macys.com, which won't accept returns of "special orders" --- any any ring that's not a women's size 7 or a men's 10.5 is considered a special order.

And ShopSmart notes that BJ's stores are generous with their returns, but online purchases are subject to a number of conditions.

And, check out BJs.com's order policy, which basically states that even though a product is listed online and can be ordered through its Web site, customers should not be fooled into thinking they might actually get it (emphasis mine):

Now, don't get me wrong: these Web retailers have all stated their policies ... but if you're not in the habit of checking them out ahead of time, you might be disappointed should you --- or a gift recipient --- decide a product or item is not what you expected.

15 Best Return Policies

8 Runners-Up

13 Not-So-Hot Return Policies

Have you encountered issues returning products you've bought online? Or maybe you just have fewer commitment issues than I do. Feel free to weigh in in the comments below.

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