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Costco kills return anytime policy

It's been too good to be true for too long.

We all knew it was too good to last. For several years now, one solid piece of advice to anyone buying a big-ticket item such as a plasma TV was to get it at Costco if possible, thanks to the big-box retailer's well-known return anytime policy. With the exception of desktop and laptop computers (limited to six months), a member could pretty much return any item at any time, including that $2,000 TV that suddenly stopped working two years later.

Of course, plenty of people abused the privilege, returning items when a cheaper model came out or using the return policy as a lifetime extended warranty. This, naturally, caused financial analysts to take a sour view of the overly generous company. (Note: I purchased my current plasma TV from Costco after being forced to wait almost five months while a third-party extended warranty company tried--and failed--to repair my old set.)

MSNBC reports that Costco's new policy is to allow customers only 90 days to return electronics--although they will extend the manufacturer's warranty to two years and set up a tech support hotline to help people with basic support issues.

The new Costco return policy states: "We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, with a full refund. Exceptions: Televisions, computers, cameras, camcorders, iPod/MP3 players and cellular phones must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a refund."