We know you may not have opened your gifts yet, but there are bound to be some disappointments – clothes that are the wrong size, items you already have or something that’s just plain ugly.
Returning or exchanging presents has become part of the holiday routine for many of us. The good news? You can make it a lot easier by following Better Business Bureau advice.
First of all, when you buy things, make sure you understand a store or website’s return policy and procedure. Stores aren’t legally required to accept items for refund, exchange, or credit unless goods were defective or misrepresented. Some stores provide refunds, while others only issue store credits. A few stores consider all sales to be final. Seasonal stores may have limited hours after the holidays, making it awkward to return unwanted items.
Some stores offer gift receipts, which allow people to return items without showing what you paid for the gift.
Just seeing that there’s a satisfaction guarantee may not be enough. Ask questions in stores and look at websites’ customer service pages to read their return policies. Ask about exceptions, such as sale or clearance items or intimate apparel. Although some stores offer extended return periods during the holidays, you can’t assume that every store or website will offer it.
If it can’t be returned, you might want to reconsider your purchase.
Some stores also charge restocking fees or shipping for returned items, which can limit the amount of any refund. Be sure to ask about those. Many online retailers provide pre-printed labels that can make returns easier, but be sure you understand whether shipping costs will be deducted before you get money back.
Next, keep all receipts. Keep them in a folder or envelope just in case. If you shop online or receive receipts there, start a folder in your email program where you can put receipts and order confirmations. Many stores offer gift receipts that don’t include the price you paid but allow the recipient to return or exchange the gift.
Finally, time your returns to avoid long lines at the customer service counter. Return lines can be lengthy the day after Christmas, but don’t wait too long to return items. Pick a time when the store is unlikely to be crowded, and be polite when talking to customer service clerks. If you are a regular customer or have a store credit account, mention that as you discuss return options. Merchants are usually willing to accommodate loyal customers.
Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Profiles and BBB Charity Reviews by calling 417-380-5074 or by going online to www.bbb.org.