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Williams Sonoma returns/exchanges—any experiences?

Getting married and am considering registering for appliances at Williams Sonoma–read somewhere that they guarantee their appliances even beyond the regular warranty...does anyone have experience with this? Like, if we get a Kitchenaid stand mixer (still not sure which one) and it breaks, will Williams Sonoma take it back?

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  1. maggie>

    Before you register ANYWHERE ask that company to provide their return and guarantee info in advance.

    Here is the WS FAQ link>


    Here is a direct phone number to get specific info >



    1 Reply
    1. re: advisor_Girl

      WS has changed their return policy in 2010. I recently went to WS to exchange a pot (for a bigger one) someone gifted me over Christmas. I found out much to my surprise that WS no longer accepts returns after 90 days.

      To me that means that they no longer wish to stand-behind their products and are no longer committed to satisfying their customers as they once did.

      I have willing payed the generous WS-Premium to have this comfort when I purchased their goods in the past (like a small $90 pepper mill). I am sad to say that I will be reluctant to shop at WS from now on. Instead I think I am starting to like Sur La Table more and more. Sur La Table's returns policy also sounds much friendlier that WS.

      Happy Cooking.

    2. I've never had a problem returning something to them, but generally I don't take things back to them. I research pretty thoroughly before I purchase from them. Where I have had a problem is that when they discontinue a product in their stores they discontinue all support for it. I purchased a Keurig B-60 single cup coffee maker from them, which at the time they were the only local source for it. I stopped by a few months later to purchase some K-Cups for it and since they discontinued the coffee maker, they no longer had the coffee for it. I also purchased a wall hanging system for kitchen tools and such and about a year later I could no longer get hooks or any parts for it from them. It was a sizable investment down the tubes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Grillncook

        Stopping selling a particular product and the related items is a different (though important) issue from returns/exchanges because something breaks. Presumably, if your Keurig B-60 stopped working/broke they'd deal with it as they do with all of their sales (which in my experience has been if something breaks or I need to return/exchange something; no problems whatsoever).

        I empathize with your being irked about not being able to continue to get parts/stuff for already purchased items, though.

      2. I have purchased a lot of things at williams sonoma and they have great service. I have a capresso coffee maker with a grinder that got jammed a couple years after I had purchased it. When I took it in to ask them to send it for repairs, they simply gave me a new one. I had some trouble with a blender that they no longer carried and they gave me credit for the purchase price of the original blender and let me pick out another one. If your kitchen aid breaks, they will probably just give you a new one. Really great customer service.

        1 Reply
        1. re: baloo

          Being a supplier to WS is a double edged sword. On one hand, they are a huge account and will increase your sales substantially. However, when a customer brings something back that is not working correctly and is given a brand new one to replace it, WS does not eat it as a loss, they return it to the vendor, which might explain why some vendors choose to stop shipping to WS. Just might end up being too expensive and too much trouble.

        2. My only complaint about the online WS return policy is that if something is bought on sale (or maybe just on clearance - I'm not sure) it can't be returned. That kind of irks me. Pottery Barn is the same way (and owned by the same company).

          So make really sure you want any item that you register for on clearance.

          15 Replies
          1. re: paraque

            If that were the case, it'd be a reasonable policy for items on clearance. Its not the policy on williamssonoma.com, though.

            All purchases can be returned with a receipt.

            If you had a different experience, it seems it wasn't company policy that someone was acting on.

            1. re: ccbweb

              Interesting. That's what I was told when I tried to return a clearance online purchase to the local store here in Boston. Perhaps I won't feel so hesitant to order clearance table linens online anymore...

              Thanks for the info.

              1. re: paraque

                Hope it helps! And perhaps the folks in the store you went to weren't entirely honest with you. That's somewhat disconcerting.

                1. re: ccbweb

                  Well, it wasn't the folks in the store that told me exactly. They were going to do the return, but for an online return they have to call the Customer Service at the online store to do some sort of verification. The people at the online customer service told the employee at the store that they couldn't do the return.

                  Unless everyone was conspiring to pull a fast one on me, which I doubt. This was about six months ago - my guess is that they've simply changed their return policy.

                  1. re: paraque

                    The policy for online returns at WS and Pottery barn changed last year. You can no longer return online purchases at the store. I found this out when I tried to return a salad bowl to PB that my MIL sent us at Christmas....it was a duplicate of something we had so we wanted a credit put on a gift card. we'd done this before but were told that they no longer would take back a return from catalog or website and we had to work directly with that part of the business instead.

                    1. re: ziggylu

                      meaning you have to ship it back yourself? Or will they do that? What do you actually have to do to return online purchases?

                      1. re: maggiej

                        I can't remember how ti was supposed to work. When I questioned the policy, a manager came over and took care of it for me anyhow(with a huff indicating there were now going to have to get authorization to send it back themselves). I was particularly frustrated because they carried this item in the store so had I not told them it was an online purchase and showed them the paperwork it would have never been an issue. No one seemed to see the logic in it and kept saying "we're separate business entities now"

                        When I got hoem that day I looked on their website and didn't see anything about this so i called their customer service and was told the policy had in fact changed. I wrote them a letter about it as I thought it was a bad policy move, bad for their business, and unfortunate to their customers who had never run into this issue before. I also mentioned that I felt it was particularly unfortunate for items that aren't catalog/website exclusives.

                        I still don't see this change in policy in the website so maybe they changed their minds. I'm sure they got a lot of flack about it during the holidays since it had never been an issue before.

                        If you think a lot of your guests might shop on line, I'd definitely ask about it when registering.

                        good luck and happy wedding!

                      2. re: ziggylu

                        I just had my wedding and used W-S for my registry. I returned online purchases at the store with no problem. Perhaps it is different when it is off a registry because they have an exact record of purchase. For one of my returns I could not find the packing slip. They looked up the original order number based on my registry. They will take the item (no, you do not pay any shipping), call the online services to process the return, and a few days later you will get a merchandise credit in the mail. I just did this last week.

                        In addition, don't forget that you will get 10% off unlimited in-store and phone purchases for six months after your event. They also give you a one-time 10% online coupon good for one year after your event. The weird thing is that when I called to make a phone purchase, the customer service rep thought I was using my "one time" coupon but the letter they sent was very clear (and it's on the website) that it's good for unlimited phone purchases. I think that might be a new change. So, depending on how comfortable you are with asking for gift cards, it may be worth it to ask them to give you gift cards instead so that you can get the 10% off after your event.

                          1. re: maggiej

                            I registered at Williams Sonoma years ago and was fairly unhappy with their return policy. They didn't credit sales tax and I believe I had to wait for a gift card to be sent for me, which seemed really unusual compared to Macy's, the other place I registered.

                            1. re: Pandora

                              Which WS did you work with? I've been at 2 locales and generally the store itself will give you merch cred at the desk. Now granted, if this was "some time ago" (and I'm too Southern to go further), things might have been different. As a general rule the store doesn't count sales tax in the return credit other than what is local. We (Charlotte), tend to give local tax.

                              1. re: Nocturnalbill

                                It was about 6 years ago in the San Francisco flagship store. It seems that if the gifter paid sales tax on the item (and they must have since all the other guests were from SF or elsewhere in California), I should be given that on top of the purchase price of the item as part of the store credit.

                                1. re: Pandora

                                  To the best of my knowledge, the sales tax is usually returned on the item. But it sounds like you have had an entirely unusual experience.

                      3. re: paraque

                        I was also being told that sale items with a price ending with $xx.98 (or 97?? don't remember) can't be returned.

                        1. re: cutipie721

                          That's a misnomer, gift returns (within six months of your wedding date), it doesn't matter if it's sale (as long as it's not outlet), you will be given the price on the gift receipt (though with the new system YOU BEST HAVE ONE, don't mean to sound snarky, but yeah, receipt or gift receipt is wise), there is a way for us to tell what was paid even if it's listed at .99 cents. The ending of the price tells us what the item was. 0 or 5 is a regular item, anything else is sale. The clerk or manager you spoke with was just being a jerk. Though I might tell you that Monday or Tuesday is a much better time to do your bridal return, God knows, Sunday is international Bridezilla day and you will likely face us at our most foul tempered.

              2. Had a 15 year old Dualit toaster with a bad element. I checked about sending it to Dualit for repair (why should it end up in a landfill) and read way too many posts about horrible experiences with that avenue. I walked into the nearby W-S with it and walked out a few minutes later with a brand new one...no receipt, no nothin'

                8 Replies
                1. re: tim irvine

                  WS has changed their return policy in 2010. I recently went to WS to exchange a pot (for a bigger one) someone gifted me over Christmas. I found out much to my surprise that WS no longer accepts returns after 90 days.

                  To me that means that they no longer wish to stand-behind their products and are no longer committed to satisfying their customers as they once did.

                  I have willing payed the generous WS-Premium to have this comfort when I purchased their goods in the past (like a small $90 pepper mill). I am sad to say that I will be reluctant to shop at WS from now on. Instead I think I am starting to like Sur La Table more and more. Sur La Table's returns policy also sounds much friendlier that WS.

                  Happy Cooking.

                  1. re: orzo

                    As a former employee, I'll be happy to tell you why the change. WS discovered that people were taking MASSIVE advantage of the corporate return policy. The company still stands behind products. All Clad and Kitchen Aid still get returned. Granted these companies also have true lifetime return policies that few people take advantage of; after all, when was the last time that a KA mixer really broke down? WS also had people that would return items that we hadn't carried in years and expect full price because they had the receipt. I don't mean like 3 years, I mean like ten with hard use. It also has to do with loss prevention. The pepper mill you speaking of actually had become one of the most stolen items in the store nationwide. The decision came down to the stores that we would no longer take back ANY pepper mills without a receipt.
                    That having been said, I do understand your point, and have no issue with choosing to shop elsewhere. They also changed their work requirements. I worked there for the discount, not the money. And frankly, requiring all employees, regardless of their usefulness to the store to work at least 3 shifts a week at a minimum wage side job was a bit much.

                    1. re: Nocturnalbill

                      It is not just Williams-Sonoma that has modified its return policy. Many stores have done this for the reason that Nocturnalbill has mentioned--abuse of policy (and some downright fraud). Apparel stores have even more stringent rules for returns and I don't blame them. These are businesses, not social service agencies. If they are losing money wrt loss prevention, they certainly will do something to rectify this. I still happily shop at W-S (and Sur La Table) and have received good service at both places. And frankly, 90 days is PLENTY of time to return a gift from Christmas. Come on, that's THREE WHOLE MONTHS! And with stores giving gift receipts, requiring a receipt isn't exactly onerous.

                      1. re: nofunlatte

                        FWIW, if you charge your purchase on the American Express card, regardless of where you buy it, AmEx doubles or extends the original warranty for up to one additional year. So for example, if your KA mixer came with a 1-year warranty, AmEx extends it for one additional year. A 90-day warranty will be extended for an additional 90 days. Just save the original warranty and your receipt.

                        1. re: CindyJ

                          One would assume though that this return would be done through AmEx, not WS. Even with the credit card company being the 800lb gorilla, it would be difficult for them to tell a store that they simply HAD to take something back. Granted, I'm in corrections, not finance so that may be incorrect.

                          1. re: Nocturnalbill

                            Here's how the AmEx extended warranty worked in my case about a year ago. My new gas cooktop was beyond the manufacturer's1-year warranty. Because it was purchased with my AmEx card, AmEx extended the warranty for an additional year. This is trivial, but one of the LED indicator lights on a control knob wasn't working. I called the place where I purchased the cooktop, they gave me the name and number for their authorized repair service. I phoned the repair service, they sent someone out to do the repair. I paid for it. I sent the repair receipt along with copies of the original purchase receipt and warranty to AmEx. They reimbursed me for the repair.

                            I had a similar experience with a camera several years ago, in which case AmEx reimbursed me for a brand new camera. The original store had nothing to do with the transaction. It was done through the camera repair service, which had determined that the cost of the repair would exceed the cost of replacing the camera.

                    2. re: orzo

                      What exactly is the difference between Sur La Table and WS's return policy?

                      If you buy something from Sur La Table and it breaks after a year, you can still return it but you can't do that with WS?

                      1. re: hobbess

                        WS changed its return policy roughly a year ago, due to the abnormally high amount of loss incurred from returns in the preceding years. The new policy is return/exchange within 90 days with receipt, exchange ONLY without receipt. There is some leeway offered with wedding returns, but largely it has gotten very strict. This is not due to the normal customers, its due to the ones we all know and dread who abuse the policy or steal.

                        Generally, most appliances come with a 1-3 year manufacturer's warranty that covers the item from normal wear and tear breakdown. This must be handled through the company not WS however.

                  2. I wasn't aware that WS changed their return policy recently. Anything I have purchased at WS in the past, I paid the premium price for the confidence that if it broke, it would be replaced without any question. Not any more. I received a hostile reception when I wanted to exchange my broken plastic cap to the Penguin soda maker bottle. If they are not going to stand behind their products anymore, I won't be buying anything at WS for a premium price. there are lots of other places I can buy those items for less.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sheep farmer

                      Some WS locations are less friendly than others, as stated up thread, it really has a lot to do with problems outside the corporation's control. It's the customers who bring back things that haven't been used properly or are stolen that have caused the problem. That being said, how you shop is obviously your choice.

                      1. re: Nocturnalbill

                        Granted, I only ever returned one thing at my local WS store but it was a very difficult transaction, to the point of being comical. No way, no how did the clerk want to refund my money.

                        Left unattended, my husband bought a very specific copper pan. I walked back into the store to return it and the clerk tried every angle possible to convince me to not return it.

                        She pulled out every comeback from the corporate manual to try to convince me to keep the pan. I must have said "I don't like it, it doesn't fit my lifestyle, I will NEVER us it, I don't want it" about 25x before she finally relented and refunded the purchase price.

                        1. re: cleobeach

                          That is not a wise clerk. We're pretty up front that an unused recently purchased item is not gonna be a hassle. Don't know what that one's issue was. Likely was looking to back up sales.

                    2. A few months ago, I bought a tin of W-S brand coffee bark at their outlet store outside of Las Vegas. The candy was either extremely stale or had an off taste. A week later, I tried to return it at my local W-S store. Not only would they not take it back b/c I didn't have my receipt, but they wouldn't take it back b/c it was bought at the outlet store. But it was their product! I just found that utterly ridiculous. It's not like it was some other brand that *might* have been bought at their store. And it was a quality issue to boot. Unbelievable.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mdepsmom

                        Yesterday I was doing window shopping in WS and saw this black truffle butter 50% off. Oooooh I was so ready to grab it till I realized that the expiration was 10/2010. I know, it's probably going to taste just fine, but why risk it.

                        And I've never heard of ANY stores in this country that would process returns for items that were bought from the outlet (unless it's not a real outlet store). You may have better luck if you tried to return it back to the outlet store.

                        1. re: cutipie721

                          Cutipie is exactly right. Outlet, catalog, and storefront are three separate entities. The corporation made that call. If it goes to outlet, this is because it was discontinued at the store. So we specifically do not take that back.

                      2. When they started they would allow you to return something they stocked, whether you bought it there or not. That policy was the reason l used them, how user friendly can you get. No longer, thus l no longer use them as first choice

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          That policy started to be abused. This was the cause for the company's changing it. The employees rebelled en masse and the company listened. Believe me, when you've watched someone OPEN food and state that they should only have to pay for whatever's in a package that looks good, you'll understand. Granted, having said that, I understand your point as some of the stuff we sell is WAY overpriced. You do however, in most cases get what you pay for. The 90 day policy is usually relaxed for bridal, but it is narrowing down.

                          1. re: Nocturnalbill

                            Did not mean to imply it was a requirement. Thought it was a great nicety, and shopped there to thank them for their forebearance of our frailities.Figured it they could do something nice for me, l can do something nice for them.

                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              Oh we love our regulars, God forbid, I teach the tech classes at the Charlotte Store, and if we know you and like you, it's likely that that is a two way street. The humorous truth is of course, that we know our worst ones too. Damn sample vultures. Most of them work at the other stores in the area.

                              1. re: Nocturnalbill

                                Nocturnalbill is certainly correct about the return policy change. I worked for WS for four years at two locations, back in the early 2000s, and return fraud was the largest issue, even though we had a credit card fraud problem at the same time. If it wasn't the pepper mills, it was the prepackaged steak knife sets; they were left in baskets filled with excelsior, and people would just grab them and take them up to the counter to return. At times, it really was this absurd.

                                That said, there are other factors at work. The market for upper-middle-class domestic items has taken a big hit in the past few years, and WS is no exception. The end of 2008 and all of 2009 were the company's lowest share prices in almost a decade, and though it's recovered, they're clearly trying to hold on to as much cash as possible. This is also why they're renegotiating their leases much harder than they ever did before.

                                Still, the return policy change is depressing. At our store, we always had the discretion to turn away clearly fraudulent returns; it's really not that hard to read people who are trying to game the system. But we got a kick out of the older women who would bring in a broken bread machine they'd purchased in the eighties. No one would recognize it, there would be no sku for it (even in the dead sku book), but it would be clearly branded in an old iteration of the company logo. Working for corporate chains is partly an exercise in anonymity, and these old items did make you feel as if the company you worked for had a local history, besides the sanitized "Since Chuck opened his shop in 1956..." version which corporate promoted. Plus, the customer would get a kick out of getting a new bread maker.

                                In short, it's understandable why the policy changed, but it's lamentable. The benevolent return policy was one of the key differentiators of Williams-Sonoma. It made the clients feel special and cared for, which is an extremely difficult goal to reach. I don't think the old policy will ever return now that the change has been made, but since it was so well-known by frequent shoppers (who also tended to be infrequent returners), it will inspire negative reactions for years to come. They will slowly discover it when something eventually breaks, and be outraged when their trust in the brand has been replaced by a new 'normal'. It's just the risk embedded in such a decision, and I hope they chose wisely.

                                1. re: asbuilt

                                  Now I will say, none of us really enjoyed trading in a ten year old machine that had obviously not been taken care of, for something new. I do agree that part of it is sad as the end of an era, but it also allows for some more wiggle room by employees.
                                  One of the other major new problems with WS policy is that rumor has it, our new bigwigs are from Wal-Mart and Target, which are different corporate models, which has led to some attitudinal changes higher up the chain. This is worrisome. I don't want my fun side job to become a job job. I can have that at work.

                                    1. re: Jay F

                                      Technically Chuck Williams, but it is incorporated. There's a board of directors. Chuck is in his mid 90s and no longer takes as active a part in the business. Rumor has it, that he is starting to show his age quite a bit, and can't put in appearances as often.

                                    2. re: Nocturnalbill

                                      They are also changed their sale practices unfortunately. Before, during their twice yearly sales, items on the sales table would continue to be marked down until they sold. During the summer sale when they had a table full of Lemongrass and Sonoma green Le Creuset there was only one not too exciting markdown, and when I came back to check again it was off the table and loaded onto a cart to be shipped out. Gone are the days where they would keep lowering the price :-(. Got some great deals that way.

                                      The Azure and Citron never made it to a sale table at all in my store. The WS outlet I called didn't have it either, nor did the LC outlet store I called.

                                      Yes, they have definitely changed their policies. No fun there anymore. They had awesome sales, but no more!

                                      1. re: blondelle

                                        That's odd. Ours had a number of markdowns.

                                        1. re: blondelle

                                          Pure speculation, but wonder if they decided these items do better in their outlet stores?

                                          1. re: blondelle

                                            blondelle. I saw many oval shape citron at WS outlet last winter.

                                            I think the variation of shapes available in this color was basically less than other past WS exclusive colors, sonoma green or slate/gray ( for example, there were no 6.75 qt wide round in citron. etc etc.) . Therefore, I assume total numbers produced was far less than other colors.

                                            I adore citron but all the shapes available was what I already had in different colors. But I hope someday I will see citrons in LC outlet stores, like other ex. WS exclusive colors !! It is so refleshing and adorable to me.

                              2. Nocturnalbill.

                                I bought some Goldtouch Baking Pans at WS outlet stores. I believed it is under life-time gurantee from Williams-Sonoma because the packages of the pans say so. But maybe the pans are not anymore guranteed because I bought them at the outlet not at their regular stores?

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: hobbybaker

                                  Well you'd have to take them back to outlet. We recently resourced the goldtouch, so it's changed. Anything from outlet goes back to outlet. This is due to the items usually being clearanced out from the storefronts.

                                  1. re: Nocturnalbill

                                    Thanks. Since outlet does not necessarily have Goldtouch all the time as their inventory, they might not be able to give me any replacement I guess... I hope the goldtouch I got will last long time!! Too bad because the goldtouch loaf pan is really loved together with the recommendation from ATK...I was so happy I found it at outlet.

                                    1. re: hobbybaker

                                      Bakeware is usually pretty indestructible (I say this with the caveat that you should see the stuff people do when they bring it back in), a little care goes a long way. It holds up to the employees who DON'T COOK who work with us using it.

                                      1. re: Nocturnalbill

                                        Thanks. Ws claim the "Swiss Made" golttouch non-stick surface is superior. Let's see how it goes:)

                                        1. re: hobbybaker

                                          I like that it doesn't seem to burn as much as the old black surface, and it has a great tactile feel (yes I sell a lot of this stuff, mostly wedding registry, but you know how it goes), personally, it's decent stuff, overpriced (as all of WS products are, but hey you already knew this). And that's coming from my 40% discount standing.