mobileFreq

Buying a smartphone is a huge financial investment.  With two-year subsidized pricing on the way out and device payment plans on the way in, you will really want to make sure you get the device that suits you best.

You can read all the reviews that you want, but nothing comes close to actually going to the store and using the device for yourself.

What happens after you leave the store and three days later you find something about your $500+ device that you simply cannot stand?  Are you stuck with it?  Maybe.

It never hurts to ask about the return policy at the store you are planning to buy your device from.

I’ve asked several friends in the past if they knew that they could return their phone if they didn’t like it.  Many of them had no idea that such a policy existed for smartphones.

The common rational among my friends was that since the phone was tied to your contract, it is not allowed to be returned once you walk out of the store.

This is not the case.

Actually most brick and mortar stores, along with web retailers, offer the same 14 day return policy.  The only real difference is if you need to pay a restocking fee or not.

Below is a list of common places to buy a smartphone and what their return policies are.

Physical Stores

AT&T

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: $35

Condition of device: Like new with all accessories and packaging

Refund: Full, can take up to two months to process

Recap: If you’re buying from AT&T directly, you should be certain with your purchase once you leave the store…it can be costly to return and you won’t get your refund for up to a possible two months.  Ouch.

AT&T source

Verizon Wireless

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: $35

Condition of device: Like new with all accessories and packaging

Refund: Full, can take up to 5 business days to process

Recap: If you’re buying from Verizon Wireless directly, you should be certain with your purchase once you leave the store…it can be costly to return, but unlike AT&T your credit card will be reimbursed A LOT sooner.

Verizon source

T-mobile

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: $50

Condition of device: “Good working condition” with all accessories/packaging without any cosmetic blemishes

Refund: Full, does not say how long to process

Recap: If you’re buying from T-mobile directly, you should be 100% certain with your purchase once you leave the store…it can be VERY costly to return and you might not get your refund quickly.

T-mobile source

Sprint

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: $35

Condition of device: Doesn’t say, but it is assumed that it should be in nearly mint condition with all accessories and original packaging.

Refund: Full

Up to $175 refunded that day if paid in cash.

If greater than $175 in cash, a check will be mailed within 14 business days.

If paid with a check, a check will be mailed within 14 business days.

If your account was billed, it will be processed within 10 business days.

Recap: If you’re buying from Sprint directly, you should be certain with your purchase once you leave the store…it can be costly to return and you might not get your refund quickly unless you paid in cash.

Sprint source

Apple

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: None

Condition of device: Assumed to be in like new condition with all original accessories and packaging.

Refund: Full, processed immediately.

Recap: If you’re buying from Apple, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.  They have a dedicated staff that do this sort of thing 24/7.  Apple will probably make it incredibly painless as long as the iPhone is in good cosmetic/working order with all the accessories.  If you’re going to buy an iPhone, the Apple Store is where I’d get one besides Best Buy.

Apple source

Walmart

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: None.

Condition of device: Doesn’t say, but it is assumed that it should be in nearly mint condition with all accessories and original packaging.

Refund: Full, processed immediately.

Recap: If you’re buying from Walmart, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.  I recommend buying from here because of how easy it is.  They have a small selection, but the main flagships are there.

Walmart source

Best Buy

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: None.

Condition of device: Doesn’t say, but it is assumed that it should be in nearly mint condition with all accessories and original packaging.

Refund: Full, processed immediately.

Recap: If you’re buying from Best Buy, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.  I highly recommend buying from here because of how easy it is.  The selection is quite big and they have just about every accessory you need…albeit a bit overpriced.  I honestly think Best Buy is the best place to purchase a smartphone if you want to go to a physical store and get help face-to-face.  The staff really want to help out the consumer in my personal experience.  I have used Best Buy several times with nothing but great results.

Best Buy source

Target

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: None.

Condition of device: Doesn’t say, but it is assumed that it should be in nearly mint condition with all accessories and original packaging.

Refund: Full, processed immediately.

Recap: If you’re buying from Target, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.  I honestly haven’t ever tried returning a phone to Target, but it seems like it should be easy.  I know their selection is roughly the same as Walmart’s.  It is most likely recommended to shop here for a phone.

Target source]

Online Retailers

Amazon

Return time: 14 days from purchase

Restocking fee: None, shipping is paid for by Amazon as well.

Condition of device: Must be in new condition with all accessories and original packaging.

Refund: Full, processed within four weeks once returned.

Recap: If you’re buying from Amazon, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.  Usually they have some great deals and their customer service is the gold standard.  The only thing you will waste money on is shipping, but if you have Prime then it won’t cost you anything.  Amazon is a recommended online retailer.

Amazon source

Google Store

Return time: 15 days after day of purchase

Restocking fee: None, shipping is paid for by Google as well.

Condition of device: Assumed to be in like new condition with all original accessories and packaging.

Refund: Full, processed within two weeks after returning the device.

Recap: If you’re buying from Google, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.  They seem like they try to make it as easy as possible to return a device you have second thoughts about.  The only thing you will be losing money on is the original shipping & handling charges which shouldn’t be much.  I recommend buying straight from Google.

Google source

Motorola

Return time: 14 days from purchase, even 14 days to redesign with MotoMaker!

Restocking fee: None, shipping is paid for by Motorola as well.

Condition of device: Assumed to be in like new condition with all original accessories and packaging.

Refund: Full, doesn’t say how long to process.  It processed quickly for me.

Recap: If you’re buying from Motorola, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.  I’ve dabbled with their Moto X “Try then Buy” program and it lived up to its reputation of being stress-free and 100% legit.  I highly recommend buying from Motorola online.  Also, you get to customize your phone.  C’mon that is awesome!

Motorola source

This list will continually be updated when a policy changes or if I add a new store to the list.

Recent Penn State grad who loves all things mobile. Has a knack for teaching and enjoys a bit of alliteration.

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