Online Stores with Free or Cheap Returns

24 January 2015


This is a guest post by a Mooser who loves Bargainmoose and checks it every day and does a lot of online shopping because of her location. Thanks Susan from Saskatoon!

As online shopping gains popularity in Canada, companies are becoming more competitive by offering free or low cost shipping. If you're someone who shops online to save time, save money,  geographic limitations,  or just because, at some point you will receive something you wish you could return. You may be more inclined to order from an online store knowing you can easily make a return by mail or courier for a small cost, or even better, free.

The following are some points to consider regarding "free or cheap" online returns to ensure you are an educated purchaser. Keep in mind these points only pertain to online returns and do not consider returning the items in store.

Meet the Free Shipping Minimum: Most online stores offer free shipping, or free shipping with a minimum purchase. If you can return items at no cost or for a small return fee, ordering additional items to reach the minimum free shipping threshold is in your best interest.

Evaluate your "Return Fee Risk": Some stores charge a small return fee or re-stocking fee. Evaluate the benefits of ordering from this company and ensure they outweigh the risks of having to return items and get charged this fee. For example, Club Monaco charges a $5 return fee. Chances are, if you were to shop in store, you'd spend more than $5 on gas and parking so the return fee is justifiable.

Minimize or Eliminate your Return Fee: One way to minimize your return fees is to return multiple orders in one parcel, then contact Customer Service to ask if you can just be charged one return fee. Also, inspect your items carefully when they arrive. For example if you ordered several sweaters and one has a fabric pull, the store will mostly likely accept the return of the damaged item, and anything else you decide to return, at their cost.

Return Policy Timelines: Be aware of the return policy timelines, if you must return your merchandise within 30 days or 60 days for example. Lululemon has the shortest return timeline I'm aware of at 14 days from the delivery date.

Sale items/Clearance/Final sale: Be informed of what you can and cannot return. Some online stores will allow you to return sale-price merchandise, but not clearance-priced. Also note which items are final sale, such as underwear.

Return Method: Note the return method the store utilizes and its convenience. The most commonly used shipping carriers in Canada are Canada Post, Fed-Ex and UPS. Do you live or work near a Canada Post outlet? Will you plan to take your parcel to a Fed-Ex or UPS store, or call to arrange a pick-up? Some stores include a pre-paid shipping label, others you have to request one. If you have to request a shipping label, it will either be mailed or emailed to you.

Now that you're fully educated on merchandise returns, here are some clothing, footwear and accessory stores that offer free or cheap returns. Be sure to read the return policy for additional details prior to placing an order.

Free Returns:

Stores with minimal return fees:

I'd like to see The Bay offer free returns. You could also check out our list of stores that ship for free, as many of them might do free returns as well.

Bargainmoosers, do you have some stores to add to this list? Are there some stores you wish offered free returns?

Photo credit: Mark Engelbrecht


  • Laura
    Free returns for bootlegger and roots too!
  • Jeannie
    I would also like to see The Bay offer free returns because they so often get the orders wrong! They recently sent me two pairs of a shoe I ordered and the wrong size for another pair. (Their website is not up to date. When it says that an item is in stock, it often is not.) When I took the shoes back to the store, the cashier told me that he had noticed that there had been a number of returns due to incorrect orders.
  • readingwife
    Globo also offers free returns! :)
  • Susan
    Jeannie - I've almost given up on The Bay - they get so many of my orders wrong as well, or they send me used floor model items. If the error is on their end, they will pay the return shipping. All you have to do is email them and they will mail you a pre-paid Canada Post return shipping label. I have found their customer service is very slow to respond....but I'd rather mail back my parcel than try to take my 2 kids downtown, park (and pay for parking), walk, and wait in line!
    • Jeannie
      I have decided to give The Bay a rest for a while, Susan. I ordered a lot of things before Christmas but got tired of returning items or being told that they no longer had the items even though the website showed the items as available. On the positive side, I had excellent luck with both Banana Republic and The Gap.
  • Julie
    I ordered some things online from Forever 21. Not only do you pay to return things if purchased online, but the store does not offer returns of online items, either. Never shopping online a Forever 21 again...ever. Aeropostale, on the other hand, is marvelous about returning online orders to their stores.
  • Robyn has a flat 8.95 return fee for canadians. Their merchandise is consistently great quality, and you can use the reviews to almost eliminate the need to return items. They also have their website in canadian dollars, add duty at checkout, and ship incredibly quickly. Its my go to for durable kids clothes, great bedding and towels, and swimwear (best ladies swimsuits I've ever owned and I by multiple sizes/styles at a time and try on at home and use the flat fee to just send back what I don't want - no bad swimsuit dressing room experiences!) Plus they love to do coupon codes so there's usually extra discounts :)

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