How to Return Your Walking Shoes or Running Shoes

Know the shoe return policy when you buy walking shoes

Athletic Shoes
Shoes for Walkers. Richard Newstead/Moment/Getty Images

One of the biggest investments for walkers and runners is in their shoes. A good pair of athletic shoes can cost $50 - $150, with some toning shoes and hiking boots topping $200. Know the return policy of the store or online vendor before you buy shoes.

Analyzing the Shoe Return Policy

When shopping at a store, ask the sales staff about the return policy and get it in writing when possible. When shopping online, find the shoe return policy page. Check these requirements:

  • Time Limit: How long do you have from the date of purchase to return the shoes?
  • Shoe Condition: Must you return the shoes looking new, in the original box, or can you return them after wearing them outdoors?
  • Reason for Return: Can you return them for any reason, for no questions asked, or do you need to cite a reason?
  • Money Back or Exchange: Does the vendor refund your money or offer an exchange?
  • Procedure: Do you bring the shoes into a store? Do you call to get a return authorization number? Can you get a return authorization number online?
  • Shipping: Does the vendor foot the bill for return shipping? What is the shipment method for returns?

Running and Outdoor Stores vs. Discount Stores

The most generous return/exchange policies are usually found at local running or outdoor stores that thrive by developing lifelong customers. Often these stores will accept back shoes that have been worn several times outdoors and exchange them until they find the right shoes for you. Discount stores and mass market chain stores may have better prices but a much more strict return/exchange policy.

Be Ruthless in Returning Shoes That Don't Work for You

Because return policies vary, wear the shoes indoors or on the treadmill only for the first several wearings. If you find any discomfort in wearing them, return them. This may include the shoes being too tight, too loose, blisters, pain from the shoes rubbing in the wrong place, new knee pain, etc. Shoes should be supportive yet comfortable from the first wearing or you need to exchange them for shoes that fit your feet better. No pair of shoes fits every foot.

Break off your relationship with the shoe as soon as you detect a problem and take them back or send them in for an exchange.

If you are using a local running shoe store, knowing what didn't work well with the shoes can help them find the right shoes for you.


Do not expect a warranty for your shoes. As shoes are items of clothing, it is expected that they will wear out and that some will have defective stitching or glue. Athletic shoes are only expected to last for 350 to 500 miles of wear, which is three to six months for most fitness walkers and runners. Check the vendor's policy about returns for defects, but don't expect your walking shoes to last for more than a year.

Shoe Return Policy Examples

Road Runner Sports Return Policy: Their 60-day Perfect Fit return policy means you can return your used shoes within 60 days for an exchange for shoes that may work better for you. Refunds are only given if you return unused shoes within 30 days. This is a typical guarantee you would find at the most-serious running shoe store in your area. Return Policy: 365-day returns, free shipping both ways, no reason needed. The catch is that the shoes must be in the same condition as received. That commonly means that you would want to wear them only indoors on clean surfaces for a few days before deciding to return them. You will need to be ruthless in returning shoes that might not be the perfect fit.

The Walking Company Return Policy: You can return shoes for any reason for up to 30 days after you received them. However, they must be unworn and in the condition you received them in the original box, with your original sales receipt in order to get a cash/check refund or credit on your credit card. If you don't have your receipt, they will offer an exchange or store credit instead.

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