While gift-giving is a big part of the Christmas holiday, so is gift-giving, but before you head to the store to return your unwanted gifts, there are a few things experts say you should should know.
Store policies and interactions aren’t what they used to be, according to the Better Business Bureau, which notes that the previous idea that “the customer is always right” may no longer be the case.
According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 20% of gifts will be returned or exchanged after the holidays.
So how can you avoid some of the common pitfalls?
Here are some tips suggested by the BBB:
Know the policies
The BBB suggests customers check the return policies of different stores and recognize that holiday return policies may differ from a store’s usual policy. Items such as restocking fees may apply. Some may only offer exchanges or store credit.
“The fact is, it’s now about goodwill and customer service. However, stores are not legally required to accept exchanges or provide refunds unless the merchandise was defective or misrepresented,” Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau, said in a statement “While most retailers offer refund and exchange programs, how and when they do so is strictly up to them. Be sure to double-check policies this holiday season, even if you’re familiar with the brand, as stores can change their policies whenever they want.
Check Policies Online
“If you’re shopping online, look for the seller’s return policy and read it before clicking ‘buy,'” the group says. “Find out if they accept returns or exchanges and who pays shipping costs when an item is returned. In some cases, you can save on shipping costs by returning an online purchase to the local physical store. “
Find the warranty
For those who have received electronics or appliances, many come with a warranty, but this will likely not come from the retailer where the item was purchased. Instead, they come from the manufacturer.
“Find out how returns and repairs are handled if an item stops working or requires replacement parts. Will the retailer ship the item to the manufacturer for you? Or will you have to deal directly with the manufacturer? Know the answers will leave you well-prepared for any future problems,” the BBB said.
Some stores will only accept returns and exchanges with a receipt for an item and its original packaging, according to the BBB.
“Always include a gift receipt with items you gift and keep any gift receipts you receive,” the group said.
Bring your ID
In some cases, stores will ask to see a customer’s ID when returning an item, or the original payment method.
“If this is the policy of the store your gift came from, you may need help from the person who gave the gift to get your refund,” the BBB said.
Do it as soon as possible
The BBB advises buyers to “return in a timely manner.”
“Almost all return policies are valid for a specific period of time,” the group said. “Some stores change their return period during the holidays, so don’t risk missing your chance to make your return. Return the item to the store immediately.”