Have a Hassle Free Gift Return Experience This Season

When the holiday season comes to an end, many will start sorting through the gifts they received.
December 12, 2017

FRESNO, Calif. When the holiday season comes to an end, many will start sorting through the gifts they received. They will decide what gifts they like, and which ones they don’t, then the return process begins.

Returns are the last thing anyone wants to deal with after the holiday season. The lines to return a gift can be just as long as the line was to purchase one, which can be a hassle.

According to the National Retail Federation, of the shoppers who attempted or successfully returned an item last season, 54 percent said the experience was somewhat easy, 33 percent said it was very easy, and 14 percent of shoppers said it was difficult.

Of those who had a difficult experience, 6 in 10 said they would be very hesitant to shop at that retailer again. 

Friends and family members know what a hassle returning a gift after the holidays can be which is why they were more vigilant about where they shopped.

Fifty-seven percent of shoppers backed out of a purchase last holiday season due to return shipping not being free, 55 percent of shoppers backed out due to the store only offering store credit, and 42 percent didn’t purchase at a store due to a small return window.

Better Business Bureau Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties offer up the following tips to make your holiday returns a breeze this season.

Know the return and exchange policy

Most retailers will allow you to return an item within a reasonable time for a full refund, credit or exchange. When the store clearly displays a limited or no-refund policy, however, these refunds and exchanges are not required by law.

Many retailers will display their return policy at the cash register, customer service department or on the back of a receipt. If you do not see the policy, ask.

According to the Office Of The Attorney General, in California, retailers that don’t allow a full refund, credit or an equal exchange within seven days of purchase when goods are returned with a receipt must clearly display their policy at each cash register, sales counter, public entrance, on tags attached to each item, or on the retail seller’s’ order forms.

This law does not apply to perishable items, items marked as final sale, goods used or damaged after purchase, custom orders, goods not returned with the original packaging and items that may not be resold for health reasons.

If the store does violate this law (California Civil Code section 1723) by not clearly displaying their limited or no return policy, you can return the purchased item with proof of purchase for a full refund within 30 days.

It’s best to know the merchants’ return policy before you decide to purchase an item to avoid any mishaps later on.

Restocking fees

Some merchants can opt to charge you a restocking fee upon returns on unwanted items. These restocking fees can vary from a percentage of the items purchase price, to a set dollar amount, depending on the item.

Every merchant varies on what that amount is, so it’s best to ask questions and know the stores return policy before you decide to purchase an item.

Ask for a gift receipt

If you are shopping for someone else, it’s best to ask for a gift receipt just in case they have to return the item later on. A gift receipt will make the process much smoother for the receiver of the gift.

Shipping fees

If your item was purchased online then you may have to pay the full cost of the return shipping fee, or you may not be refunded for your initial shipping payment. Before you turn to the internet for your holiday shopping needs, it’s best to look up their specific return policies as well.

Turn to social media

If you are confused about the companies return policy, or you can’t get ahold of anyone, try social media. Many social media sites like Twitter have become a customer service haven for shoppers who have questions or complaints. You can tweet or direct message the company and instantly get a response detailing what you should do next.

Mind the time

If you receive a gift that you don’t like, or can’t use, it’s best to return that item as soon as possible to avoid any mishaps. Some retailers have certain cutoff dates for returns during the holidays, and the date starts when the item is purchased, not given.


If you received a gift this holiday season that is un-returnable, try recycling it by giving it to someone else. If re-gifting isn’t your thing, you can always opt to put the item up for sale online, or donate it to a good cause or to those in need.

Following these tips should make for a smooth and hassle free gift returning experience. After you’ve returned an item, let us know how the experience was by submitting a BBB customer review


ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties which was founded in 1950 and serves Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Tulare, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. 

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