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Once the Christmas holiday is over, many people will seek to return unwanted gifts. With the surge in online purchases, gift returns have become even more complicated. Return of high-dollar electronics items has also become more restrictive.

To reduce the stress of returning items, understand the return policy beforehand by asking: 1) How long do you have to return an item? 2) Does the merchant only issue store credit? 3) Is there a restocking fee? 4) If the item is a gift, will the credit be issued to the giver’s or receiver’s account?

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.
  • Make Your Returns after the Rush. If you are planning to return a gift in person, keep in minds that stores will tend to be less crowded if you wait to do your gift returns until after the post-Christmas sales


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