"It's looking at company policies, and in some cases practices, to see if we like them or not, based on how consumer-friendly they are," said Tod Marks of Consumer Reports.
Nordstrom lands on this year's "nice" list, with the site offering free shipping and free returns "on orders of every size." And how about those presents you really don't like - Kohl's "no questions asked - hassle free" returns policy online and in stores is something many of its competitors don't offer. It applies to all purchases, and there are no time restrictions. But other companies' return policies could leave you with a big lump of coal. For instance, Tiger Direct has a laundry list of conditions you have to meet and if you don't:
"They can hit you with a restocking fee of up to 25 percent. That's more than most other companies charge," said Marks.
For travelers, two airlines landed on the naughty list, including Delta.
"When I bought a roundtrip $248 nonrefundable fare, Delta offered me the chance for 'peace of mind' to upgrade to a refundable fare for $737, nearly triple that of my original fare," said Marks.
And while Spirit Airlines offers low fares, if your carryon bag won't fit under the seat, the airline charges as much as $100.
However, if you're looking for a place to stay, the moderately priced Drury Hotels are pretty "nice" indeed.
"Drury Hotels really live up to their motto, 'The extras aren't extra,'" said Marks.
Included in the price of a room - hot food in the morning and at night and free Wi-Fi.
Consumer Reports says Home Depot has a "nice" policy when it comes to major appliances like refrigerators and stoves. It will haul away your old appliance after setting up your new one eliminating the hassle of your finding someone to take it away.
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.
(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2011. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)