EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated February 2018 with more information about returning products to Aldi.
Sometimes a purchase doesn’t work out, and you need to return an item to the store for a refund. Sometimes this is the case with products purchased at Aldi. The discount retailer does accept returns and give refunds, and the process is not difficult. I’ve shopped at Aldi for years and have returned two things.
Return #1: A Rain Barrel
A while back, I purchased a Special Buy rain barrel from one of my local Aldi stores. When I made the purchase, I got some attention and questions from fellow customers and a friendly Aldi security guard (depending on location, some stores have a security officer who hangs out up front near the cash registers) who were curious about how the giant rain barrel worked.
After hauling the thing home, opening it up, pulling out the manual, and looking over the setup instructions, I realized attaching the rain barrel to one of my house’s downspouts was going to be more work than I anticipated and required making some extra purchases at a hardware store. There was nothing wrong with it, but I decided that particular rain barrel at that time was not right for me. I might install a different rain barrel at some point in the future, but not now.
The next day, I tucked the instruction manual and small parts back inside the rain barrel and drove it back to the Aldi store where I purchased it. With my receipt in hand and feeling slightly sheepish, I lugged the giant rain barrel in through the store’s regular entrance, and at the start of the first aisle I walked through an opening in the shelving that led straight to the front of store in the area between the cash registers and the bagging shelves.
The sole cashier who was ringing up customers was not the same employee who rang up my purchase the day before. He looked politely but skeptically at my rain barrel — which is one of Aldi’s more unusual, large, and infrequent Special Buys — and said, “You have a return? Did you buy that here?”
The security guard I had chatted with the day before happened to be standing nearby and spoke up. “Yes, she bought that here,” she said.
The cashier nodded and asked me to wait a minute while he finished ringing up one more customer who had been in line, and then he pushed a few buttons on the register and handed me cash. I originally paid for the product with a credit card, but he said the store gives cash refunds, and I was fine with that.
I got a few questions again from curious customers who wanted to know what the rain barrel was and how it worked. There was enough interest that I’m sure it sold soon after I returned it.
Then I put my cash refund in my wallet, headed out the door, and went on with my day. Easy peasy.
Return #2: A Hand Held Steam Cleaner
Almost a year later, I bought a steam cleaner that let me down. You can read my thoughts on the steam cleaner at this link. Anyway, I packed it back into its box and took it to a different Aldi store (not the store where I purchased the rain barrel) in my area to return it.
This time, I was instructed to stand in line and was told the cashier would process my return when I got to the front of the line. The cashier said, “Please, don’t tell me it didn’t work,” indicating the steam cleaner. I told her it worked, but not very well. She then scanned my item, called the manager out to input a code or do some other manager-y thing, and asked me to swipe the credit card I used to make the purchase. I signed a small receipt, and the cashier handed me my old receipt back along with a new receipt indicating the product had been returned and my card had been credited.
It was a different experience compared to when I returned the rain barrel, but it was still fast and easy, with few questions asked.
What to Know When You Have a Return:
Now that I’ve returned a few products to Aldi, I can offer some observations.
- Aldi may give you cash back even if you purchased the item with a credit or debit card, or the store may credit your card. I’m not sure if Aldi’s policies changed during the time between my two returns or if it just depends on what store you visit.
- You may feel like you are imposing by approaching a cashier who is busy ringing up a line of customers, but Aldi’s cashiers are used to processing the occasional return. They will know what you want when they see you walk up carrying an item, and they will either process your return right there, right away, or they’ll politely ask you to go through the line. Aldi saves money by not staffing a separate customer service counter like traditional grocery stores, and that savings gets passed on to you.
- Returning a product to Aldi is a quick experience. A cashier can handle your return in a minute or two.
- If you live in a large metropolitan area like I do where there are several Aldi stores, and if you are returning a Special Buy item that is less common, you may have an easier experience if you return it to the same store where you purchased it. You are not required to do so, though. Technically, any Aldi store should be able to accept your return and offer a refund, but because not every store gets every Special Buy item that is advertised, if you return your Special Buy product to a different store, the employees may not be familiar with that product. My rain barrel was unique enough that the cashier questioned it even at the store where I originally purchased it. The steam cleaner was a common item in all stores in my region, so it was not a problem returning it to a different store than where I purchased it.
Overall, my experiences have been easy and not as embarrassing as I worried they might be. Aldi employees deal with returns quickly and professionally, and you are soon on your way.
Aldi does offer a “Twice as Nice Guarantee” to refund your money and replace your product for free if it is defective or otherwise bad, but that only applies to Aldi house brands (the rain barrel was not) and the barrel wasn’t defective in any event. The steam cleaner wasn’t technically defective either; it simply wasn’t that great to begin with. If you have benefited from the double guarantee, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.
Have you returned a product to Aldi for a refund? How was your experience? Share your story in the comments.