December 26th brings another rush to the stores – the return of unwanted Christmas gifts – but consumers need to be aware the return policies for some retailers have changed and may not necessarily be to the benefit of the consumer.
A number of big named retailers have shortened the amount of time they give for returns and have made specific changes to their policies that effect different types of merchandise. Impacted most will be returns of electronics and appliances. The number of days allowed for these returns have been shortened considerably compared to previous years.
“Many retailers can change policies to place restrictions on returning items this year” said Jim Hegarty, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau. “Where consumers have been used to having as many as 45 days to return their unwanted gifts in some case that has been reduced to 30 days but can be as few as nine days”
These changes mean that consumers must take extra care in understanding the return policies of the stores where they shop and should not rely only on what they may be told by a sales clerk. They should look for and read the stores written policy, which by law must be displayed.
Hegarty added “Shoppers need to keep in mind that returns are a customer service and are not required by law unless the merchandise is defective.”
For the giver and receiver alike if you must return an item be prepared:
Consumers, should be aware that retailers are reacting to yearly losses in the billions of dollars that are due to return fraud and that some have taken the additional step of using a computer database to track customer returns and catch fraudulent or excessive returns.
Those retailers that use “The Return Exchange” to monitor returns will ask customers for a driver’s license or some other government issued identification when he or she returns an item.
For additional information on Christmas returns go to www.bbb.org.