‘Tis the season to have happy relatives but buying gifts for others can sometimes be a challenge. While we may think our loved one is going to absolutely love that new jacket we bought them that may not always be the case. Afraid your gift may not be the correct style or size? No worries! That’s what gift returns and exchanges are for. Melanie Duquesnel, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan notes, “While those returns make many lives much easier during the holidays, some consumers do not realize there are certain steps you must take before returning or exchanging your item. The return process starts well before you give your favorite niece that doll you just know she’s going to adore.” Here are some tips to ensure your holiday buying experience is a happy one.
1. Save the receipt. It may seem simple, but many people forget to do this. If you're giving a gift and you don’t want the recipient to see your entire receipt, you can request a separate gift receipt for specific items. If you're the gift recipient but you’re not sure whether or not you’re going to return/exchange your item, save the receipt somewhere safe but that can be easily remembered. Some retailers will give you store credit if you lose your receipt, while others will require proof of purchase before agreeing to any exchanges.
2. Pay attention to the store’s return policy. Return policies for clearance or holiday merchandise may differ from merchandise sold at full price. Every store has its own policy and consumers should understand it before expecting a full refund. Remember to do the same for returns on merchandise purchased online. If your gift was purchased online, you may have to pay a return shipping fee, or may not be refunded for your initial shipping payment. Sometimes merchandise can be returned to a store instead, but you still may not be refunded for the cost of shipping.
3. Keep the original packaging. If you’re unsure whether or not you are going to keep your gift, make sure you keep the wrapping that your item came in. This goes for tags as well. Make sure you keep all tags on your clothing until after you’ve tried them on and decided whether or not it’s going back to the store. If you open your item and accidently damage the original packaging, you are jeopardizing your chances of getting a full return. According to USA Today, if the original packaging is damaged or missing, some stores offer store credit, but will charge you a re-stocking fee. Some stores also charge a small fee if you return an item with a damaged or missing user’s manual.
4. Do not return used items. Having second thoughts about a pair of boots you've already worn once? Unless the product is defective, used or worn items are usually a return no-no, meaning they are non-refundable. Some stores have a more tolerant policy and let you exchange your lightly used items if you’re unhappy with it but you will not get a full refund. This is definitely one of those times you’ll want to check the store’s return policy.