I recently had to navigate Wayfair’s return policy after purchasing a closet organizer that didn’t fit my space. Turns out, Wayfair subjects its customers to a slew of rules that (a) border on ridiculous and (b) can leave folks paying hundreds of dollars simply to return their purchase.

Here’s what I wish I had known prior to making my purchase from Wayfair — and why I’ll proceed with caution before buying from the online retailer again.

Oh, and if you’re going to buy from Wayfair, you might as well get the company’s best deals! Find them easily when you download the KCL app.

 

1. Before you shop, beware: Some Wayfair products can’t be returned.

Wayfair’s return policy is designed so that you need to think about returning an item before you even buy it.

Luckily, I bought my lantern at full price, as Wayfair straight up won’t allow items bought on clearance or through Wayfair’s Open Box to be returned. If you personalized an item, know that doing so will disqualify you from ever returning it.

 

2. You have 30 days to return a Wayfair item following its delivery date.

This comes with only a few exceptions. If you bought something over the November – December holidays, then you’ll have until Jan. 31 to return the item. Other exceptions:

  • Gifts from a wedding registry can be returned up to 90 days following the event.
  • Mattresses can be returned up to 100 days after delivery.

The catch? Well…

 

3. Wayfair only accepts items in “like new” condition.

Doing a return with my $15 lantern shouldn’t have been a big deal. But the more I looked it over, the more oopsies I saw. The wire loop hanger got slightly bent out of shape as I was looking for a place to hang it.

I called customer service. They told me to focus on making sure the lantern fit inside its packaging. So long as I put everything back in the original packaging, I’d be good.

No problem! Because, of course, I remembered to take good care of the plastic wrapping my item was delivered in. Er…kind of.

 

4. Never ever throw away Wayfair’s packaging.

Wayfair requires items to be returned in their original packaging. Wish I had known that before I started. The wrapping was still technically in one piece, though a bit ripped up, when I dug it out of the trash bin.

Then I remembered what Wayfair customer service reps told me: “Just make sure the item fits in its packaging.” This was easy enough this time around…but when I was returning a closet organizer last year, it wasn’t. I wrestled with that thing for like 20 minutes.

PRO TIP: Wayfair also said you can tape together the original packaging if need be. I ended up being good without it, but keep that in your back pocket.

 

 

5. Pull up your past Wayfair orders to start the return process.

The only complicated part of this was remembering my password. From there, I found the most convenient way to start my return process is to visit my profile on Wayfair and look at my past orders.

Wayfair emailed me a shipping label to stick on my original packaging, which I then dropped off at a FedEx shipping center or drop-off location.

 

6. Get your refund as store credit or deposit it back onto your credit card.

This will be something you choose before you finish working your way through the return prompts online. I chose the credit card.

Wayfair says you should expect the refund to appear two – three business days after Wayfair is notified that you dropped off the item. Mine took two days.

 

7. Wayfair makes you pay for your own return shipping.

Wayfair deducts the shipping cost from your refund, but I got a $0.99 tax refund on my shipping cost (I guess they taxed my shipping, too.) That meant I only lost $4 and some change to shipping for my refund.

But the shipping cost is calculated by the weight of your item, so you might imagine this quickly gets out of hand if you buy any piece of furniture.

Reddit is full of horror stories from folks who have been told to pay hundreds simply to ship their return. I had one experience where it would’ve cost more than the purchase price to return a set of barstools. Do that once, and you’re done. Catch me on Facebook Marketplace hocking these Wayfair stools.

 

8. Wayfair makes exceptions for damaged or defective items.

Wayfair policy gives you 30 days to tell them your purchase was defective or damaged when you received it. A Wayfair customer service rep advised me to take a picture of my box and the product as soon as it arrives.

The quicker you can document this and let them know, the better, as it shows them there was less of a chance you broke the item. Once you show them this, you’ll be asked to hold onto the product (in its original packaging) for two weeks while they arrange a pickup.

I was also told you can always donate the product or sell it — and you’ll still receive the refund. (Yet another reason why you often see slightly damaged Wayfair furniture over on Facebook Marketplace. Double dip much, neighbor?

 

9. Read the fine print when you buy mattresses or large appliances.

Wayfair won’t accept large appliance returns if you’ve installed it. So be completely certain you want it before you set it up. Otherwise you could find yourself on the hook for shipping fees that, from my research, always exceed $300 if you’re shipping across state lines.

As far as mattresses are concerned: You only have two chances to buy the right mattress. Wayfair allows you one free return or exchange per order. The shipping cost will likely be north of $200.

 

 

10. Be ready to call the customer service line and ask politely for a refund.

If all else fails, call Wayfair’s customer service line. Wayfair’s rulebook has a gray area, but you won’t find the sweet spot unless you call.

In my experience, shoppers should expect the most leeway on smaller items you can easily return in good condition. Wayfair will give you less leeway on large, complicated items such as a bed frame, couch, or even barstools.

Do you have any nightmare Wayfair return experiences? Let me hear about it in the comments — I want to know!

 

10 Helpful Tricks to Make Sense of Wayfair's Return Policy