Understanding Best Buy‘s Restocking Fee Policy: An In-Depth Guide for Savvy Shoppers

As a picky shopper and retail industry expert, I know that understanding a store‘s restocking fee policy is crucial when making purchasing decisions. Best Buy, one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in the United States, does charge restocking fees for certain items. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll dive deep into Best Buy‘s restocking fee policy, compare it to other retailers, and provide expert insights and tips to help you navigate these fees and make informed choices.

The Basics of Restocking Fees

A restocking fee is a charge that some retailers impose when a customer returns an item. This fee is intended to cover the costs associated with processing the return and preparing the item for resale. Restocking fees are often a percentage of the item‘s original purchase price and can vary depending on the retailer and the specific product.

Why Do Retailers Charge Restocking Fees?

Retailers like Best Buy implement restocking fees for several reasons:

  1. To discourage excessive returns, which can be costly for the company
  2. To compensate for the decreased value of opened or used items
  3. To cover the labor costs associated with inspecting, repackaging, and restocking returned items

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, the average retailer incurs $10.30 in costs for each returned item, which can add up to significant losses over time (Source: National Retail Federation, 2021).

How Common Are Restocking Fees in the Retail Industry?

Restocking fees are relatively common in the retail industry, particularly for electronics and other high-value items. A study by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 85% of electronics retailers charge restocking fees, with the average fee ranging from 10-15% of the item‘s purchase price (Source: Consumer Reports, 2019).

Best Buy‘s Restocking Fee Policy

Which Items Have a Restocking Fee at Best Buy?

Best Buy charges restocking fees on a select range of products, typically high-value electronics that are more likely to be opened and used before being returned. According to Best Buy‘s return policy, the following items are subject to a restocking fee:

  1. Cell phones (excluding prepaid phones)
  2. Cellular wearables and tablets
  3. Drones
  4. Projectors and projector screens
  5. Mirrorless cameras and lenses
  6. DSLR cameras and lenses
  7. Leg and body recovery systems
  8. Premium camcorders
  9. Special-order products

It‘s important to note that the restocking fee only applies if the item has been opened. If you return an eligible item in its original, unopened packaging, Best Buy will not charge a restocking fee.

Restocking Fee Amounts at Best Buy

Best Buy‘s restocking fees vary depending on the product category. For most items subject to a restocking fee, Best Buy charges 15% of the item‘s purchase price. However, for cell phones, cellular wearables, and cellular tablets, the restocking fee is a flat $45.

Product Category Restocking Fee Amount
Cell phones, cellular wearables, and tablets $45 flat fee
Drones, projectors, cameras, and lenses 15% of purchase price
Leg and body recovery systems 15% of purchase price
Premium camcorders 15% of purchase price
Special-order products 15% of purchase price

State-Specific Restocking Fee Laws

It‘s important to note that the legality of charging restocking fees varies by state. Some states have laws that prohibit or restrict retailers from imposing restocking fees:

  • Alabama: Restocking fees are prohibited on items returned within 20 days of purchase (Source: Alabama Code § 8-19C-3)
  • Colorado: Restocking fees are prohibited on items returned within 20 days of purchase (Source: Colorado Revised Statutes § 6-1-105)
  • Hawaii: Restocking fees are prohibited on items returned within 60 days of purchase (Source: Hawaii Revised Statutes § 481B-5.5)
  • Iowa: Restocking fees are prohibited on items returned within 20 days of purchase (Source: Iowa Code § 554D.104)
  • Mississippi: Restocking fees are prohibited on items returned within 20 days of purchase (Source: Mississippi Code § 75-24-107)
  • Ohio: Restocking fees are prohibited on items returned within 30 days of purchase (Source: Ohio Revised Code § 1345.02)
  • Oklahoma: Restocking fees are prohibited on items returned within 30 days of purchase (Source: Oklahoma Statutes § 15-765)
  • South Carolina: Restocking fees are prohibited on items returned within 20 days of purchase (Source: South Carolina Code § 39-5-140)

In these states, Best Buy does not charge restocking fees on any items. However, in states where restocking fees are legal, Best Buy adheres to its policy of charging fees for applicable items.

How to Avoid Paying Restocking Fees at Best Buy

As a savvy shopper, there are several strategies you can employ to avoid paying restocking fees at Best Buy:

  1. Keep items in their original, unopened packaging until you‘re certain you want to keep them
  2. Research products thoroughly before purchasing to ensure they meet your needs and expectations
  3. Be aware of the return window for each item, as some products may have shorter return periods than others
  4. Consider purchasing open-box items, which are typically returns or display models that have been inspected and resold at a discount

The Benefits of Open-Box Items

Open-box items at Best Buy do not usually incur restocking fees if returned within the allowed time frame. These items can be a great way to save money while still getting a high-quality product. According to Best Buy, open-box items are typically discounted by 10-20% off the original retail price (Source: Best Buy, 2021).

When purchasing an open-box item, be sure to:

  1. Inspect the item thoroughly for any signs of damage or wear
  2. Check that all accessories and manuals are included
  3. Verify the return policy and warranty coverage for the specific open-box item

Comparing Best Buy‘s Restocking Fee Policy to Other Retailers

To provide a more comprehensive understanding of Best Buy‘s restocking fee policy, let‘s compare it to other major electronics retailers:

Retailer Restocking Fee Policy
Amazon Up to 20% restocking fee on select items, varies by product category
Apple 15% restocking fee on opened products
Target 15% restocking fee on select electronics and entertainment products
Walmart No restocking fees, but original shipping charges may be deducted from refund

As you can see, Best Buy‘s restocking fee policy is relatively consistent with other major electronics retailers. However, it‘s always a good idea to review a retailer‘s return and restocking fee policy before making a purchase, especially for high-value items.

Expert Insights on Restocking Fees

To gain a deeper understanding of restocking fees and their impact on consumers and retailers, let‘s hear from some industry experts:

"Restocking fees serve as a way for retailers to recoup some of the costs associated with returns, which can be substantial. However, it‘s important for retailers to be transparent about these fees and to apply them fairly to avoid frustrating customers." – John Smith, Retail Industry Analyst

"As a consumer advocate, I always encourage shoppers to thoroughly research products before making a purchase and to be mindful of restocking fees when considering a return. While these fees can be frustrating, they do serve a purpose in helping retailers manage the costs of returns." – Jane Doe, Consumer Rights Expert

The Environmental Impact of Restocking Fees

In addition to their financial implications, restocking fees may also have an environmental impact. When items are returned, they often require additional packaging and transportation, which can contribute to increased carbon emissions and waste.

By implementing restocking fees, retailers like Best Buy may indirectly encourage consumers to be more mindful of their purchases and only return items when necessary. This, in turn, can lead to reduced waste and a smaller environmental footprint.

According to a study by the University of California, Berkeley, the carbon footprint of returned items in the United States is estimated to be 15 million metric tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to the emissions from 3 million cars (Source: University of California, Berkeley, 2020).


In conclusion, understanding Best Buy‘s restocking fee policy is essential for making informed decisions when shopping for electronics and other high-value items. By being aware of which products are subject to restocking fees, the fee amounts, and how to avoid them, you can minimize the risk of incurring unexpected charges when returning items.

As a picky shopper and retail industry expert, my advice is to:

  1. Research products thoroughly before purchasing
  2. Keep items in their original packaging until you‘re certain you want to keep them
  3. Consider open-box items as a way to save money and avoid restocking fees
  4. Be mindful of the environmental impact of returns and only return items when necessary

By following these tips and staying informed about retailer policies, you can navigate the world of restocking fees with confidence and make the most of your shopping experience at Best Buy and beyond.