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'Tis The Season For Returns

Betsy Weber
Flickr - Creative Commons

A lot of people will be hitting the shopping mall today looking for after Christmas bargains - and many more will be in line returning unwanted gifts.

Many of those gifts may have been purchased online, which has its own unique considerations. Luanne Kadlub of the Northern Colorado and Wyoming Better Business Bureau says shipping policies vary:

“Each is different, sometimes the merchant will pick up the tab, often times not, so you’ll want to check the policy there. But I guess the important thing to remember when you’re making an exchange or returning a gift is to just, be patient”

Returns are a part of shopping. Which is why the National Retail Federation says 60 percent of this year’s gifts will include a gift receipt. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be hassles. Kadlub says people should consider if they’ll keep the gift before completely unwrapping it.

“And if it’s a gift that you know for sure that you want to return, the recommendation is not to open it, not to take it out of the wrapping, because no one else wants to buy used merchandise.”

Kadlub also suggests going to a store’s website to find out their return policy, and not to postpone for too long taking the gift back.

The BBB has these six tips for returns and exchanges: (via bbb.org)

  • Return policies. Return policies for sale on clearance or holiday merchandise may be different than merchandise sold at full price.
  • Receipts. Without the original receipt or a gift receipt, you will not be able to get cash when you return unwanted gifts. You may be able to get a store credit or be able to exchange the item for other merchandise.
  • Return ‘clock’. Many retailers may only allow returns within a certain time frame and that time frame usually begins when the item is purchased, not when you receive it. If you have gifts to return, do it as soon as possible.
  • Restocking fees. Some merchants charge a restocking fee for returns of electronics products or large-ticket items. If you are returning electronics, you should keep the original packaging.
  • Return shipping fees. If your gift was purchased online, you may have to pay a return shipping fee. Sometimes merchandise can be returned to a store instead.
  • Regifting. If you get a gift that cannot be returned, you can recycle it by giving it to someone else or donating it to a good cause.