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Make Holiday Gift Returns a Breeze

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According to a study conducted by RedStag Fulfillment, 28% of the gifts people purchased were returned, for a total value of $90 billion last year.

With holiday returns also comes holiday return fraud. Return fraud comes in many forms, including purchasing merchandise for short-term use and then returning the item, returning stolen merchandise, or using reused, stolen or falsified receipts to return merchandise for a profit.

Many retailers, both online and brick and mortar, have return policies in place to not only protect the consumer but their businesses as well.

If you received something that doesn’t fit, you already have the item or it’s simply not what you wanted, BBB offers the following tips for returning holiday gifts:

  • Know and understand the seller’s return policy. We know that most stores list return policies their website or on the back of the receipt. Make sure you fully understand what is required for a return or exchange, and if you have questions, call the store directly to ask about your specific situation.Brick and mortar stores may have different return policies than online counterparts. 
  • Keep the receipt. Include a gift receipt with all gifts, so it is easier for the recipient to return or exchange the gift if it’s not the right fit. 
  • Keep original packaging andask about restocking fees. Some stores may require products be returned in original purchase condition, unused or unopened. In addition, some merchants charge a restocking or “open box” fee for returns of electronic products or large-ticket items. Make sure you read about these policies and ask questions through email or live chats to make sure you understand the policy.  
  • Bring identification. Because of return fraud, some retailers will ask for identification when making a return. If you are returning or exchanging a gift that you bought, make sure you bring the credit card used to make that purchase in case you don’t have the receipt. 
  • Read product warranty first. In some cases, retail stores are not liable if the product turns up defective or damaged. They may require consumers to mail the product directly to the manufacturer in order to receive monetary refunds, credit or product replacement. 
  • Don’t delay. In almost every case, stores require you to return within a specific time frame. If you wait too long, you may miss your chance. 
  • Read the fine print before purchasing a rebate-eligible item. Rebates are great for getting a good deal but can come with strict requirements. Make sure you understand how the rebate will be issued. Some rebates need to be redeemed immediately and expire after a certain period of time. Read the instructions carefully and check the return policy. You may experience difficulty returning an item if the rebate requires you to open or send in part of the packaging, such as the UPC or box top.  Keep a copy of the submitted rebate materials and note the date on which you sent it in.  Mark your calendar for when you should receive the rebate.


To report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit

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