Guide To Returning Gifts from Reader's Digest Informative - Return Policies - Returning Gifts

Review by Skye on 2007-12-25
Don't feel guilty about returning that singing mounted fish your cousin bought you. He might be returning your gift, too. About 40 percent of Americans take back at least one gift after the holidays, says the National Retail Federation.

If you find yourself in line to return a gift this season, you're apt to discover that store policies have become stricter. Restocking fees for opened boxes or missing packaging are increasingly common, and not just for electronics. For example, Sears now imposes a 15 percent restocking fee for some appliances, tools, and lawn and garden products.

Return Roundup: The Rules at 6 Big Retailers MCT Some retailers relax return policies at holiday time. Except for Amazon.com, these policies refer to gifts bought in and returned to stores. See the holiday return policies for 6 popular stores.
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Stores have also become more persnickety about receipts. Last summer, Target changed its policy to allow for two receiptless returns a year of items less than $20. Before that the threshold was $100.

Kmart, Lowe's, and Wal-Mart are among the retailers that now use computer systems to monitor how often customers return items without sales slips. If you bring back too many within a given period, the store might stop accepting them. Some retailers say they're trying to prevent returns of stolen goods.


If returning a singing fish is essential to your sanity, follow these tips and the process should go swimmingly.

Check the policy. It's probably on the store's Web site. If not, call the customer-service line or the store. Note that some stores have more generous return policies for goods purchased at holiday time.

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Handle with care. Lost tags, missing packaging, or damaged boxes make it less likely you'll get your due. Amazon.com says it won't accept returns of products missing the serial number or UPC square on the box. Best Buy and Circuit City charge a 15 percent restocking fee on some electronic items whether or not you've opened the box. But you should not have to pay a restocking fee if the item was defective when you unwrapped it.

Bring the receipt. Being able to present one makes it more likely that you'll get back the item's full value. Without a receipt, a retailer might credit you with the lowest recent price or simply deny your return altogether. Gift givers should try to include one whenever possible.

Retail Heaven or Hell?

Go to the right place. If the item was purchased by mail order or on the Internet, make sure you send it to the address the retailer specifies. The retailer might also have a location near you that takes mail-order returns. Sears, for instance, accepts Lands' End returns at its stores. But Macy's and Kohl's, which sell online and in stores, don't accept returns by mail if the merchandise was purchased in a store.

Clear your good name. If your return is denied and you don't know why, you may have been incorrectly flagged by a store's computer for committing "return fraud." You might be able to correct the matter by e-mailing the Return Exchange, a company that monitors returns for retailers, at returnactivityreport@thereturnexchange.com.
Comments:15 Replies - Latest reply on 2008-01-10
Posted by Skye on 2007-12-25:
Merry Christmas everyone. I'm sure the beginning of many return policy complaints to follow. Stay tuned!
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-12-25:
Great post Skye. Very Helpful!
Many happy returns, everyone!
Posted by MRM on 2007-12-25:
I, for one, enjoy all of my gifts. I have received a tool set, GPS, and a 17" PC LCD monitor. Skye Aubrey, enjoy your Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-12-25:
Merry Christmas, Skye. I almost never return anything. Depending on the gift, I either chalk it up to bad decision making, or, if I'm lucky, it's a sure candidate for regifting.

Great post!
Posted by N. on 2007-12-25:
If a gift doesn't fit or is all wrong I don't return it either. I "regift" or give it to charity. Not worth the hassle of returning. Now if something is worth keeping and it has a flaw I will exchange it.
Posted by D. on 2007-12-25:
Unless a gift is defective or part(s)missing, I don't return anything...it's not worth it. Good post Skye!
Posted by jktshff1 on 2007-12-25:
Great Post Skye!!
Posted by sarahnkrystal on 2007-12-25:
I almost never return anything. My son got a duplicate Thomas learning laptop, so we have to exchange it for some other Thomas merchandise. The kids even got duplicate pajama sets, but I just hold onto those.
Posted by GothicSmurf on 2007-12-25:
The only complaint I have is I got one gift that I don't like... and I don't have a gift receipt for it! Everything I loved, I got receipts for. *Sigh* Oh well. Thanks for the info it's always helpful!
Posted by Starlord on 2007-12-26:
Great post, Skye. Very good information.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-12-26:
Good post and info, I just re-gift the junk to people I don't care for but "have" to give a gift to, LOL.
Posted by Nohandle on 2007-12-26:
Gee thanks Super. That explains the tacky singing fish you gave me this year. Next time how about brushing off the dust first. LOL. Great informative Skye.
Posted by Dumb on 2007-12-30:
Right On!! I also rarely return anything either. I think re-gifting is a great idea. It frist of all, will save You money at some point, and second, it will deny the merchant a future sale and or a tax benefit if there is such a thing for them.
Posted by Vinz on 2008-01-03:
Now if only I have the courage to ask for the receipt of the gifts I got...but I was to shy to ask :(
Posted by horrible_sanity on 2008-01-10:
I can only speak for best buy and only our store i know all best buys increased its regualr return period this year from 14 and 30 days to januaray 31'st for all purchases made between nov 1'st and december 24th i also know that we have been making alot of exceptions for no recipt returns. usally year round we wont do a return or exchange without a recipt. however for the holidays as long as the item is under 50 100 in some cases there was no questions asked except for a photo id. and the poster was correct its to prevent return fraud or people stealing from us and then returning the murchendise later.

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