Chances are, you have a few Christmas gifts to return. It’s inevitable that gifts get repeated, clothes don’t fit or something is just not your style — and that’s OK. Here are some tips for braving the post-holiday return rush:
Hopefully you didn’t tear off packaging and tags on Christmas morning. If so, be prepared for the retailer to reject the return. This is especially true for video games, DVDs, CDs and computer software. If you can’t return the item, consider selling it on Craigslist, eBay or Amazon if it’s something you absolutely can’t use. Donating unwanted items is another alternative.
If you know where a gift came from, check the store’s return policy. This can give you all kinds of useful information. Important things to look for include restocking fees, how long returns are accepted after the purchase date and what items are eligible to be returned or exchanged.
Ask for a receipt. While etiquette experts may frown upon this, I think it’s perfectly fine to ask for the receipt for an item in most cases. I would hate for something I gifted to sit unused rather than hand over the receipt. This is especially true for family and friends I’m close to. With the introduction of gift receipts in recent years, which hide the cost, I think this process is less awkward than ever.
Review your shipping options. If one of your gifts was mailed to you, shipping it back may be necessary. In some cases shipping will be paid for so always check your options. Also remember to get a receipt and tracking number from the shipping service for anything that’s sent back. These will come in handy if the package is lost. Of course, if there is a brick-and-mortar location nearby, check to see if they’ll accept the return in person.
Don’t feel the need to rush back to the store. Most stores extend their return deadline if an item is purchased in November or December. If you can take advantage of this extension, you can avoid the rush to return items during this first weekend after Christmas.
A lost receipt isn’t the end of the world. Some retailers can look up the purchase if you have the credit or debit card the product was bought with and some have special barcodes that are placed on each item upon purchase (like Macy’s). You may only receive store credit without a receipt or not get the full purchase price back in cash. Speak to a store clerk to learn about your options.
Check out Consumer Reports’ list of hassle-free return policies. Not only can this help you now, but it might influence where you make future purchases. Some of the stores on the list with excellent return policies that I can vouch for include Kohl’s, Lands’ End, Nordstrom and CVS.
What store return policies do you love or loathe?