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Saturday, December 26, 2009


Your Step-by-Step Guide to Returning Gifts

If you weren’t busy telling everyone exactly what you wanted this holiday season, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a couple of gifts you’d rather not keep. No one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings or get into a heated conversation with a sales associate at the store, so here are a few tried and true tricks to make the process of returning gifts as smooth as possible.

Research Return Policies
Check in with each store you need to return gifts to before you begin the process to learn their return parameters. You may have limited time (if any) to receive cash back before you may only opt for credit, or there may be a no-returns policy in place. Banana Republic, for example, will allow you to return for cash (or other method of payment) for only 30 days even if you bought the product yourself. After 30 days you will only receive a store credit—if they allow you to return at all. You may also want to know stores’ policies for returning gifts without a receipt. Generally, you will only get the current selling price, so it may not be worth returning something at all if the item’s price has recently been deeply discounted.

Get Receipts, If Possible
If you don’t know where a gift came from, don’t have a receipt, and have learned you can’t return or exchange it without one, you can always ask the gift-giver for a receipt. However, consider whether it’s worth it before inquiring. If the gift is inexpensive (like these awesome gifts under $25) and you’re worried about offending the giver, you might want to let it go. But, if it’s right up there with the most expensive gifts ever and you know the giver won’t be offended, or you can use a solid excuse like the need for a different size or color, pull the person aside, after all the presents have been unwrapped, and gingerly request the proof of purchase.

Make a Plan
Don’t hit the shops blindly. If you’ve got a bunch of stuff to offload, create an itinerary for hitting all the stores in an order that allows you the least amount of backtracking and the most timesaving. Also, try to show up right when the stores open or when they are about to close to avoid the midday returns rush.

Be Nice
While waiting in customer service lines can be a hassle and there is the occasional surly salesperson, most folks who work retail are more than accustomed to customers making returns. Be polite, honest, and matter-of-fact and be willing to accept the store’s policy and you shouldn’t have any problems returning or exchanging your item—even without a receipt.

Make the Best of Things
Don’t sweat what you can’t return. There are other worthy uses for even the most unwanted gifts. You can re-gift an item (but only if it’s in brand new condition!), donate it to charity, or save it in a special place and show it off the next time the gift-giver comes over to visit (which will make him or her feel extra special).

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