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How to De-Stress Your Holiday Gift Returns

Once the rush and excitement of the Christmas gift giving is over, many people find themselves with one or two “less than exciting” gifts and want to return them. Overall, according to the National Retail Federation approximately 55% of returns only receive an in-store credit instead of a full refund. The problem is that store return policies have become more complicated, especially when dealing with stores that have both a ‘bricks and mortar’ and an online presence. Return of high dollar electronics items has also become more restrictive.  Timing of returns is critical as well. Stores will tend to be less crowded if you wait to do your gift returns until after the post-Christmas sales. To get the most out of your return, consider the following tips:

  • Receipts and ID required. Because of the increase in returns fraud, most stores require a receipt and valid picture ID in order to issue a refund or store credit.
  • Bring a copy of the refund policy with you. Be sure to read the policy to understand the terms of a return including deadlines and location restrictions.
  • Return electronic items first. These items often have more restrictions and a much shorter return window.
  • Don’t open the box. If you try to take back an item and the original packaging has been tampered with, stores may impose a restocking fee of 15% of the retail price. This has become more common when trying to return electronics.
  • Check out major online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon. Instead of returning your gift, it may be more cost effective to sell it, especially if the item packaging has not been opened or damaged.
  • Sale items not eligible. Remember, regular return policies may not apply to sale or clearance items.
  • Sticky Shipping Fees. Shipping fees may not be refunded, and you may have to pay for return shipping.

Sources: BBB North Alabama and Consumer Reports

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to https://www.bbb.org .