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The Next Problem: Returning Gifts

December 24, 2012
Plain English Version

If you think buying gifts is stressful, wait until you try to return one. Still, there are good ideas around about how to return gifts without too much trouble. Here is what the experts say.

Keep your gift receipt. Nearly two out of three people have their gift receipt on hand when they go to return a gift. Many stores will not take returns without receipts and give only a small amount of credit on the purchase.

Prepare in advance. Try to check the web site of the store. Some stores say you must have the receipt, the original packaging and the tags. Other stores take any return they believe came from their shelves. It is important to unpack gifts carefully. And do not wear anything you might be returning.

Visit stores during their “quiet hours.” After 8:00 PM and the closing hour are the best times to return gifts. It might be better to wait a few weeks until the holiday rush is over. If the store has a 30-day return policy, make sure you know when the gift was purchased.

Shop at retailers with liberal return policies. Target and Walmart have made it harder to return gifts without receipts or after 45 days. Best Buy has gotten rid of its “restocking fee.” Do some homework before you shop.

Use prepaid labels for online returns. Internet stores that include prepaid labels make your life much easier. Just put the label on the box and mail it back to the store.

It is worth the effort to learn more about return policies. It will save you time and money.

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