BBB: Top 6 Tips for Gift Returns and Exchanges

December 27, 2012

December 26 is a big day for after Christmas sales, but it is a bigger day for gift returns and exchanges.

According to the National Retail Federation, one in three consumers (38 percent) will return at least some portion of their holiday gifts.

If you get gifts that aren’t quite right, the BBB has tips for hassle-free returns and exchanges.

“Many stores have a specific time limit for returns and exchanges,” said Joan Coughlin BBB Spokesperson. “The ‘return clock’ started ticking the day your gift was purchased, not the day you received it.”

The BBB has six tips for returns and exchanges:

1. Return policies. Return policies for sale on clearance or holiday merchandise may be different than merchandise sold at full price.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

Return policies vary and some retailers have special policies for sales and holidays. Before you stand in a long line to return holiday gifts, we encourage you to go online to read the retailer’s return policy on their website.