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Six Tips for Returning/Exchanging Those Holiday Gifts

Here's a quick list of tips to look over before you decide to return or exchange holiday gifts.

Perhaps that snazzy electric blue sweater your favorite aunt got you isn't quite your type, or maybe that awesome Forever Lazy loungewear you won in the White Elephant gift exchange is a little snug. Don't worry—you're one of the millions who are expected to hit the stores this week to return or exchange holiday gifts.  

According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers returned a record-high $46.28 billion in holiday merchandise in 2011. It remains to be seen if recipients were happier with their gifts this year.

Here's a short checklist to help your trip back to the busy stores, malls and shopping centers a little smoother:

Refunds and Exchanges Checklist

  • Know the seller’s return policy and timeline. Retailers often provide extended return/exchange holiday timeframes. Circle those dates on your calendar to avoid missing the date(s).
  • Be aware that return policies vary, so confirm before purchasing. Common return policies include cash-back, a credit card refund, a corporate refund check, or store credit. 
  • Check if there are restocking fees for returned items.
  • Save your receipt along with any other documentation regarding the purchase. Your receipt serves as proof of purchase. 
  • Do not open the box. Some businesses will only provide you with a full refund if the merchandise remains in an unopened box. Do note that some retailers will only provide exchanges for open box items.
  • Wait a few days to return your item(s) to avoid the "return rush." Shops on Dec. 26 will likely be swarming with return-to-sender shoppers, so if you want to avoid the crowds, give it a few days before you set out to make exchanges or returns.
Vito Spago December 26, 2012 at 11:05 PM
I do not return anything. I just wait until next year and give them away as gifts. You never get cash with returns. All you do is get credits for just other junk at the mall. This Christmas I did internet shopping only. No malls and no state taxes.
pamylla December 27, 2012 at 02:02 AM
And there's nothing wrong with giving "gently used" items...especially in this budget-pinching economy. Most people appreciate if you're doing your part to reduce/re-use/recycle. Hand-made gifts can be nice, too, if tailored to the recipient. It seemed there were plenty of shoppers in the malls this holiday season! Is this a sign that the economy is picking up?
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