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Tips on Returning Gifts - Hassle Free

Taking the Bah-Hum-Bug Out of Gift Returns

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The following article explores what shoppers can do to avoid frustration at the return counters this holiday season.

Keep All Receipts

Without a receipt some retailers may exchange merchandise, however you risk getting credit for what the lowest markdown price at which the item was sold for over the past 30 days. If you bought the item in early December at 20 percent off and it was offered at 50 percent off two weeks later, you risk only receiving an exchange value at the 50-percent-off price.

Avoid Tampering With the Merchandise

If you think you will be returning a gift, avoid opening the packaging, especially those items which are sealed in hard plastic. Keep the original packaging including Styrofoam, plastic product wrapping, the box, instruction manuals, and all parts (including tags). If you plan returning a gift, avoid tampering with the packaging.

If you are given clothing or sleepwear, try it on for fit with tags intact and without wearing perfume, powdered deodorant or makeup which could stain the item. If merchandise appears to be worn, and unsellable, most retailers have the right to refuse to return it. No one wants to buy used merchandise.

Enclose Gift Receipts

Ask for gift receipts and include them inside gifts you are giving. Gift receipts contain all the information needed for proof-of-purchase and pricing lookup to insure the gift recipient gets what you paid for the item.

Online Returns

Asking the right questions before you buy online will help ease the hassle of returning the merchandise. If you have already made an online purchase and forgot to ask about the return policies, call now and ask while the phone lines are well staffed and special holiday policies are still going on. Here are questions you will want to ask before you buy a gift online:
  • Who will pay for shipping the return - you or the merchant?
  • Is the return pickup policy the same for exchanges or refunds?
  • Is there a restocking fee on returns?
  • Can the item be returned to a local physical store?
  • What is the mailing address for returning merchandise to the company? Some online merchants have off-site service centers specifically assigned to handling returned merchandise.

The Sooner the Better

Consumers returning merchandise quickly will find better selections to choose from for an alternate gift, have less chance of losing their receipt, and be able to take advantage of the extended hours and extra help in the stores during the holiday season.

Wear Your Patience Hat

The week after Christmas is one of the most hectic weeks of the retail year. Stores are filled with over-worked store associates, long return lines, policy quoting, high frustations and low tolerance.
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