Stuck with a pair of shoes – and confused about Sears’ refund policy

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By Christopher Elliott

Olga O’Hara wants to return the shoes she bought at Sears, but she’s getting mixed signals from the company about how to do so. Is she stuck with her purchase?


I recently ordered a pair of shoes online through The packing slip says I can return the items to any Sears store.

I went to my nearest store and was told they can’t refund my money back to my credit card since I paid with PayPal. The only option they had was to issue a gift card. However, I don’t shop at Sears and I did not want a gift card.

They told me I could ship the items back. Well, I’d have to pay to ship those back, and I don’t want to do that.

Is there any way I can return the items to the store and have them refund my money to my credit card? — Olga O’Hara, Salt Lake City


Sears should have allowed you to return the item to one of its stores. Like other merchants, it has a policy of refunding your purchase to the original method of payment. So if you paid cash, you’ll get a cash refund. If you paid by credit card, it goes back to your credit card.

Sears’ rules are explained on its site. But it doesn’t really mention the method-of-payment policy, at least not prominently.

By the way, many businesses have similar rules, and for good reason. Paying by gift card and asking for a cash refund sounds like the kind of scheme you’d read about on one of those consumer-hacker sites, where, among other things, they also explain how to take advantage of pricing mistakes and churn your credit cards. Enough said.

You have to dig deep into the Sears website to find this information. You can find it under the refunds section, about halfway down the page: “We will issue refunds in the same form as the original method of payment where appropriate.” makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top-rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Appropriate? That sounds like it’s subject to interpretation, don’t you think?

Sears return policies and customer service

Here’s what puzzles me: is crystal-clear about your return options. “If you make an order that you wish to cancel, you may mail the order back after you have received it or return the merchandise to your local Sears store,” it says.

And yet, as I review the chat correspondence between you and a Sears representative, it seems as if, on at least one occasion, a Sears rep didn’t understand the store’s own policy, instructing you to ship the shoes back. Also, the employees seemed more eager to sell you something than to solve your problem. Tsk, tsk. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer issues.)

I think Sears could have been clearer about its return policies, especially as it pertains to the issuance of the refund. It might also train its employees to let them know that it’s absolutely fine to accept returns from (Related: Why won’t Sears refund my canceled order?)

You also could have appealed this to someone higher up at Sears. Here are a few executive contacts. Email addresses at Sears follow the format [email protected].

I contacted Sears on your behalf. A representative called and arranged to let you take your shoes back to your store and will refund your PayPal account.

Does Sears' refund policy make sense?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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