Tips for successful, stress-free Christmas gift returns


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – If December was the month for buying gifts, then January is the month for returning them.

Surveys by two retail marketing organizations say anywhere from 55 to 77 per cent of holiday shoppers will return gifts within a month of receiving them.

But returning holiday gifts may not be as simple as just taking them back, because store policies vary and you want to be able to return that unwanted gift with the least amount of hassle.

We tend to return presents for a variety of reasons. 

Maybe that fabulous sweater is ugly, the sleek pair of pants is 2 sizes too small, or you just want something else.

Well, before you start combing through those gift receipts, keep something in mind: timing is everything when it comes to gift returns.

In general, stores are not required by law to accept or give refunds, exchanges, or credit unless the gift is damaged or defective. 

The Better Business Bureau says you’ll want to pay close attention to the store’s return policy so you can know exactly what to expect ahead of time.

“A lot of times during the holiday season those return policies are different,” says Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau.

She says you need to “really read that fine print and notice that it may change from 90 days to 45 days to 30 days. It’s really important to be aware of that.”

Things you’ll need for a successful return: First and foremost —

  • Bring the receipt with you
  • Make sure you’ve got identification so the store can prevent fraud
  • Bring the gift back with the original packaging and tags
  • Expect a restocking fee for opened packages or boxes, especially when it comes to electronics.

Of course an alternative that just might be the perfect solution to getting that thing out of your house. 

You could always re-gift it to someone else, but that’s a whole other can of worms for another time. 

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