Improve Your Return on Gift Returns


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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. 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. Overall, according to Consumer Reports approximately 23% of returns receive only and in-store credit instead of a full refund. 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 read the policy to understand the terms of a return including return deadlines and locations.
  • Return electronic items first. These items often have more restrictions and a much shorter return window.
  • Watch out for re-stocking fees. Many stores, especially online, now charge a restocking fee of up to 25% of the retail price. If you find yourself in this situation, considered whether or not returning the gift is worth it.
  • 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, Consumer,,

Final tip: Stores will tend to be less crowded if you wait to do your gift returns until after the post-Christmas sales. So with a little preparation and patience, your gift return experience can be manageable.

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to

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