September 27, 2021

How to Return Online Purchases and Get Your Money Back

1. Your return credit is in limbo. Getting an online refund can take a while. Amazon, for example, says it can take up to 25 days to receive your return, two business days for the refund to be processed, and three to five business days for the refund to show up in your account. That’s more than a month! COVID-related delays can stretch out time frames even further. To speed things up, see if you can return items purchased online at a retailer’s store. If that’s not an option, have your return tracking number and order number on hand and complain until you get your money back. It’s a tactic that has worked for me.

2. The retailer is AWOL. To avoid getting stung by shifty websites or bad customer service, pay with a credit card, which has more protections than debit cards and other payment types, says Ted Rossman, an industry analyst for When he recently bought an item online that didn’t arrive and the seller was unresponsive, he disputed the charge and got his money back through a refund issued by his card issuer, which is called a charge-back; you can also get one for merchandise you were billed for but returned. For details on how to get a charge-back, go to, click on Money & Credit, then Credit & Loans, then scroll down to Disputing Credit Card Charges.

3. The company declares bankruptcy. Return ASAP! The vast majority of bankruptcies this year are Chapter 11 reorganizations, so most of those retailers are still in business. J. Crew’s parent company, for example, declared bankruptcy in May, but as of August you could still shop online and return items. Unfortunately, many companies in Chapter 11 end up shutting down for good, like Modell’s, Pier 1 and A.C. Moore.

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