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How to Return Anything at the Big Online Stores

All the ways to send something back or talk to a human at Sephora, Gap, Nordstrom, and more.

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The outside of a Sephora store Photo: Colin McConnell/Getty Images

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According to UPS, January 5th is the biggest day for returns — not surprising, considering the 5th falls at the end of the first real week after the holidays. (You’re not going to spend your first day back at work calling the Sephora customer service line, are you?)

Since policies vary store to store, we put together a list of everything you need to know for the big online retailers — Gap, J.Crew, Nordstrom, etc. — from how to send a package back to all the different ways you can get in touch with a customer service rep over chat, email, phone, and even snail mail.


Gap

Gap offers customer service via phone from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. EST at 800-427-7895 seven days a week. You can also email the general customer service address at custserv@gap.com. The site also gives you the option to mail a real letter(?!) to a customer service rep. (The address, should you need it: 100 Gap Online Drive, Grove City, OH 43123.)

The particularly convenient thing about shopping the Gap website is that you can switch between Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta seamlessly — they all share one cart — and order from all four stores but pay a flat rate for shipping. Returns by mail are free, and you have up to 45 days.


H&M

H&M provides round-the-clock support 365 days a year, with the exception of having special holiday hours. You can reach a customer service rep with a toll free number (855-HNM-SHOP) and email address (customerservice.us@hm.com).

You have 30 days to return for a full refund online or in stores, but an important note: All returns by mail warrant a $5.95 deduction from your return. In-store returns without a receipt will get you a gift card at the current selling price.


J.Crew

J.Crew offers help by email (help@jcrew.com); live chat every day from 9 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. EST; and 24/7 customer service by phone (800-562-0258), fax, and snail mail (One Ivy Crescent, Lynchburg, VA 24513). The brand also has a Twitter account devoted to customer service, @jcrew_help. (One of our own writers found it immensely helpful recently.)

Online shoppers can also try out the complimentary stylist feature by emailing verypersonalstylist@jcrew.com or calling 800-261-7422. There are also customer service specialists for international orders and corporate partnerships.

You have 30 days to return, and items without an original receipt must have a gift receipt to receive store credit. For online returns by mail, $5 will be deducted from your order.


Zara

For online shoppers, Zara offers customer service via telephone (855-635-9272) from 8:30 a.m. from 7:30 p.m. EST Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The site has a 24/7 live chat feature, which seems to work pretty fast, as well as Twitter (@Zara_care) and a Facebook page (ZARACare) devoted to helping customers.

One thing to note: Make sure you registered for an account instead of checking out as a guest if placing an online order — it’s the only way you’ll be able to make an exchange by mail. Returns are free, and must be made within a month of purchase.


Nordstrom

Live chat, email, and phone reps (888-282-6060) are available 24/7 for online shoppers at Nordstrom. Similarly, the retailer also offers specialists in the areas of beauty, wedding, and designer that you can chat, email (through web forms), or call around the clock for questions ranging from how to style a look to similarly priced options for things that may be sold out.

Nordstrom also offers one of the most unique return and exchange policies for both in-store and online purchases: There’s no time limit specified. Online returns via mail are free.


Net-a-Porter

Net-a-Porter offers customer service by phone (877-678-9627) and email (customercare.usa@net-a-porter.com) 24/7. The online-only retailer also offers a fashion consultant service available by phone (877-799-0627) or email (fashionconsultant@net-a-porter.com) to help you do everything from choose the perfect gift for a friend to dispense advice on how to style a runway look.

For customers based in New York City and select areas of New Jersey, the retailer has a special service that delivers same day, along with its own customer service hotline (877-506-0697) and email address (premier.usa@net-a-porter.com).

Returns and exchanges are complimentary and must be done within 28 days.


Sephora

Sephora’s customer service reps are available by phone (877-737-4672) Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. PST and Saturday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. Live chat is available weekdays 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST and on weekends 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. There’s also the option to send an email through a web form on the site.

When it comes to ordering online, Sephora definitely adds incentive when it comes to samples and promotions. Every online order comes with three complimentary samples, and there are often promo codes you can use that yield complimentary deluxe size samples of new products or even fashion magazine subscriptions — something not available in stores.

Returns and exchanges by mail are free, and yes — products can be returned even if they’re opened (the site specifies that they should be new or “gently-used”). You can receive a full refund up to 60 days of purchase, and store credit up to 90.