Big Lots Return Policy: 10 Reasons Why It Sucks & 10 Reasons Why It’s Great

Big Lots Return Policy

Do you know what Big Lots Return Policy is? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

It’s always great to find decent prices on a lot of different products in one store, but you want to get good return options as well.

At Big Lots, you have 30 days to return most items, with some exceptions. The items should be in their original condition and packaging, and you should have your receipt as well. You might also be charged a 20% restocking/processing fee, even if you are eligible for a full refund.

Read ahead in this article to find out the good and bad in the Big Lots return policy!

What Is Big Lots?

Before we get into all of the ups and downs of their return policy, let’s talk about Big Lots as a company, and find out what they are all about.

Big Lots is an American retail company that sells a wide variety of different goods, advertising themselves as good value for money. Their main competitors in the industry are other large-scale stores like Walmart, Costco, Dollar General, and Target.

Big Lots actually started life as the Consolidated Stores Corporation in Ohio in 1967. Their first store opened in Columbus in 1982 and was named “Odd Lots”. They expanded over the years before rebranding all of their stores as Big Lots.

There was even a Big Lots wholesale division for a time, though it was closed down in 2013.

Now, the company operates over 1,400 different locations across the United States, they employ over 22,000 people and report around $5 billion in revenue. Since 2019, they have actually experienced a surge in stock value. Since more people were working and studying from home, they started spending more money on household items and furniture at Big Lots stores.

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What Is the Standard Big Lots Return Policy?

The return policy at Big Lots is pretty standardized and covers most of the products that they sell, either in-store or online.

You have 30 days to return your item to Big Lots for a refund or an exchange, although there are some exceptions to this.

When you compare that to other large-scale retailers in the industry, that is not a lot of time to decide that you need to make a return, and the limitations don’t stop there!

10 Reasons Why the Big Lots Return Policy Sucks

To really dig into the specifics of this returns policy, let’s first take a look at the negatives first.

Overall, it is not a generous policy. There are quite a few limitations and caveats hidden inside the fine print, so let’s be clear about what is not so great if you are looking for a refund or an exchange from one of their stores.

A lot of these negatives are particularly bad when you compare them to what you get from Big Lots’ competitors. Most big companies give you a lot more flexibility, a lot more time, and often a better refund or exchange as well.

1.  You Only Have 30 Days to Make a Return

It’s pretty rare that you will know straight away that something is wrong with the item you bought, or that you have changed your mind about what you wanted.

When it comes to return periods, 30 days is one of the shortest that you will find anywhere in the country.

For comparison, Walmart, Target, and Costco all have a standard return period of 90 days. Big Lots is not the only retailer with a time limit like this though – Dollar General also has a 30-day return policy, for example.

2.  The Item Has to Be in the Original Packaging

Another negative about the return policy at Big Lots comes down to the wording. It does say that the merchandise should be in its original packaging if you want a full refund or exchange, which can be very difficult to do.

While they don’t explicitly state that the packaging can’t be opened, it does give them the flexibility to deny your return if the packaging is incomplete.

3.  The Item Has to Be in its Original Condition

This is a big one, although it is also not too uncommon. Using the phrase “original condition” basically means that they want the item to appear almost completely unused.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get any refund on a used item, but it is likely that you won’t get the full amount back.

4.  You May Be Charged A 20% Fee

Most larger retailers don’t actually charge you anything when you make a return, but Big Lots has a fee for bringing back your items built into their policy.

Most returns will come with a charge of 20% of the original price as a processing fee (sometimes called a “restocking fee”.

This essentially means that you are highly unlikely to get all of your money back. Even a “full” refund will probably only result in 80% of whatever you spent actually coming back into your account.

5.  Your Refund May Be Limited or Declined

They do make it very clear on their policy that Big Lots “reserve the right to limit or decline a refund or exchange”.

They imply that this would generally be the case if there was an issue with locating your original payment, but it allows them to deny you at their own discretion.

6.  You Are Responsible for Return Shipping and Handling Costs

If you need to make your return by mail, you are going to have to spend some extra money. Unlike other companies, like Walmart, Big Lots will not reimburse you for the cost of shipping and handling that you incur when you make your return.

7.  There Is No Refund for Coupons Used

If you bought your item using a coupon of some kind, then that money will not be refunded when you make a return.

Although this can seem frustrating, it is a pretty standard policy. This essentially prevents someone from abusing the returns system and using coupon discounts to refund more money than they actually spent.

8.  Returns Without a Receipt Are Refunded 20% Less and In Store Credit

It can be very difficult to keep track of all of your receipts, so it is always unfortunate when a store insists that you provide one for a return.

While you can return items without a receipt to Big Lots, they will only give you 80% of the money back, and they will only refund you in credit to be used in their stores.

9.  Returns And Exchanges Can Be Limited at Their Discretion

Big Lots does also have a stipulation that says they are able to limit your ability to return items at their own discretion.

This is in place to prevent any abuse of the returns system, but it gives them the flexibility to legally deny you a return if they want to.

10. There Is No Refund for Shipping, Delivery, Handling, Gift Wrapping, Or Similar Charges

If you had to spend a lot of money on getting your items shipped to you, or on any other additional charges like wrapping or handling, then you will not be refunded for that cost.

This may not be a big issue for smaller items purchased in-store, but for large pieces of furniture or costly gift wrapping, you can find yourself out quite a bit of money.

10 Reasons Why the Big Lots Return Policy Is Great

So, there are a lot of negatives to be aware of, but it’s not all bad. There are some things that are pretty good about the returns policy at Big Lots.

Keep in mind, though, that a lot of these positives are pretty standard in the industry, and you would actually be surprised if many of them weren’t part of the policy.

1.  Returns After 30 Days Can Be Refunded in Merchandise Credit

Although the 30-day time limit does seem pretty restrictive, you do have some options after the first month.

You may be able to get a refund after 30 days, if you’re lucky, but you will only get your money back in store credit.

There is no strict time limit given on this part of the policy, so it is possible that you can get this kind of refund after quite some time.

2.  The Process Is Easy and Straightforward

If you do make a return, it is pretty simple to do. You can either take your items back to the store or mail them.

In-store returns should come with the original packaging, receipt, parts, and paperwork – and you can simply talk to a store associate to get started.

Online returns should be carried out using the “Return Item” link on your “Order History” page on their website. You will then get all the return documents and instructions you need for sending off your item.

3.  Most Items Can Be Returned

One particularly nice thing about the returns policy at Big Lots is that the majority of their products are covered. There is not a particularly extensive list of exceptions, although some things cannot be returned or exchanged.

Open airbeds can only be exchanged, for example, and any digital downloads (for software, video games, etc.) are not able to be returned.

4.  Refunds Go Back to The Original Payment Method

Getting your money back when you are eligible for a refund is nice and simple. It will almost always go directly to the payment method that you originally used.

5.  You Can Return Gifts for Store Credit

There is an exception for how you can get your refund though. If you were gifted the item, then you can get your money back as store credit.

It can be quite difficult to return something that was bought for you by someone else, because they will usually be the one actually receiving the refund – back to whichever method they used to pay for it. The option of getting store credit gives you a lot more flexibility.

6.  You Can Return Items Bought Online or In-Store

You do have the option of returning items, no matter where you bought them from. This is not always the case, as some stores make their online, or in-store, payments final and will only accept returns for products purchased from one or the other location.

Items purchased in-store, however, do need to be returned to a store – as you can’t mail these back.

7.  You Can Return Items Through the Mail

It may seem like standard practice these days, but you don’t always have the option of mailing your items in to make a return.

This means that you don’t have to seek out a physical store and can send your items back from basically anywhere in the country.

You cannot return in-store purchases via the mail though – they have to be taken back to a Big Lots location.

8.  Most Lost Receipts Can Be Found

Needing a receipt may seem like a bit of a hassle, but you might get away without bringing one. Most lost receipts can be looked up on their system, although this will mean that you can only get your refund in store credit, and you are likely to lose 20% as a processing fee.

9.  They Will Pay Shipping and Handling on Damaged, Defective, or Incorrect Items

If there is an actual problem with your item, then Big Lots are a bit more accommodating. They will pay for you to ship an item that was damaged, defective, or otherwise incorrect when you received it. Frankly, though, this does feel like the bare minimum.

10.  There Is Some Flexibility in The Rules

It is worth saying that the wording on their policy is pretty strict, but there is usually some flexibility. They may be able to deny you a refund after 30 days, or charge you the 20% restocking fee, but that might not always be the case.

The discretion of the associate that you talk to will factor into things, so you might get lucky.

What Do People Say About Returning Items to Big Lots?

So, we’ve taken a look at the good and the bad that is written into the return policy at Big Lots, but what does it actually look like in practice? How do people really feel about the process?

Unfortunately, many customers do find the Big Lots returns policy to be as restrictive as it sounds. While a lot of companies are pretty forgiving and generous with how they actually implement their rules, Big Lots doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Many customers report that they found it difficult to get any sort of refund or exchange at Big Lots, and that they were almost never refunded the full amount.

Big Lots Return Policy FAQs

How Do I Return A BIG! Delivery Item?

The easiest way to return a product that was sent to you through BIG! Delivery is to a store. If you cannot get to a store, then you can call the Customer Care Support Center at 1-866-BIG-LOTS (244-5687).

Can I Return an Assembled Item?

If you have already assembled an item that you bought from Big Lots (like a piece of furniture) then it can still be returned.

As long as it is in original condition, you should be able to bring it to a Big Lots store within 30 days and get a refund or an exchange.

Can I Exchange an Item Bought Online?

You can exchange online purchases, but you will need to take them to a Big Lots store to do so.

What Do I Need to Include with a Return Via Mail?

If you are mailing your return, then you need to include the original packing slip, the return slip, the items in their packaging, as well as any paperwork, parts, and accessories.


So, what is the deal with the Big Lots return policy? Well, it’s not very generous. You only have 30 days to make a return, and you are expected to bring your items back in their original condition and with the original packaging.

They even charge a 20% fee for processing returns, and they don’t refund shipping or handling costs either.

Although there are some positives about their policy, most of these are pretty standard for a company this size and, unfortunately, customers don’t have many nice things to say about actually dealing with Big Lots returns.



Lindsey graduated with an MBA in 2009. Since then, Lindsey has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Lindsey is also the head writer and Co-founder of Lindsey is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

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