Everything you need to know about returning holiday gifts


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Although we all love to receive holiday gifts, sometimes they fall short of our expectations. 

When a gift is unsatisfactory, that’s when we take it back to where it came from. Buying is easy, but returning can be more complex.  

“I’ll take it back with a tag, but they want a receipt,” said Anna Peevy. “So, I have to call a family member and explain I’m returning it.” 

When it comes to in-store purchases, it’s estimated 8 percent of items sold in brick-and-mortar stores are returned. When it comes to e-commerce purchases, figures indicate a quarter of items are returned.

When it comes to returns, you shouldn’t procrastinate. 

“It’s pretty essential you make your returns in a timely fashion,” said Nick Hill of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina

Hill said it’s important to be a wise gift giver, saying, “look at store exchange policies to see what the store will and won’t accept.” 

Many retailers have considered supply chain issues when crafting return policies this year. 

“A lot of return windows have become wider because of the pandemic,” Hill said. 

Large retailers like Macy’s, Home Depot, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, JC Penny, Lowes, and Walmart are now offering 90-day return windows on most items. Other retailers — like Apple, Barnes and Noble,  Best Buy, and Amazon — have more difficult return policies.

  • APPLE only offers a 14-calendar day return window and only on items purchased directly from Apple. If you purchased from a retailer, you need to go back there to make the return. 
  • BARNES & NOBLE will only accept unused items in the original package, so if you remove the shrink wrap for example, they won’t take it.  
  • BEST BUY is another retailer with a 14-day return window. They also charge a restocking fee on almost every item returned. 
  • AMAZON has a long list of exceptions for items returned. If you purchased from a third-party via Amazon, those retailers have their own return rules. 

“It’s critical you ask the seller do they offer cash refunds, exchanges, store-only credits, or charge restocking fees,” Hill said. 

Of course, there is one way to avoid the hassle of returns. 

“Regift them to someone else,” said Savanna Poole, adding that she regifts about 5 percent of the items she receives. 

If you did your shopping early to avoid supply chain issues, you may find that you’re already beyond the return window established by retailers. 

If that’s the case, try to negotiate in a non-threatening way because stores are not legally obligated to accept returns or exchanges.  

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