BBB offers tips for returning Christmas gifts

Staff Report

ROCKFORD – Everyone knows the old saying, “The customer is always right.”

Well, the adage may have to be shelved for what experts call the biggest exchange day of the year.

Stores are filled with customers exchanging or returning holiday gifts the day after Christmas. But the process may not be as seamless for those who aren’t prepared. Consumers can make it a lot easier by following the Better Business Bureau’s advice.

“Each retailer may have different return and exchange policies,” said Dennis Horton, director of the
Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau. “Stores aren’t legally required to accept items
for refund, exchange or credit unless goods were defective or misrepresented, and it’s up to consumers
to be aware of all the individual terms and conditions before attempting to return or exchange a gift.”

Following is what consumers need to know.

The stores return policy: Ask what specific return policy applies. Some stores provide refunds,
while others only issue store credits. A few stores consider all sales to be final. Seasonal stores
may have limited hours after the holidays, making it difficult to return unwanted items. Time
limits to returns: Stores. Stores may also have a time period to return items which make gifts
bought far in advance impossible to return.

Save receipts: They are usually needed for returns. Some stores offer gift receipts, which
allow people to return items without showing what you paid for the gift. Make sure to bring
whatever receipt and packaging that was provided with the gift. 
 
Keep the original packaging: Do not remove electronics or similar products from their boxes, as
the original packaging may be required for a return.
 
Know the online return policy: If making an online return, find out whether shipping fees are
charged for returning items and whether shipping costs or restocking fees are deducted from
the price of returned items. Many online retailers provide pre-printed labels that can make
returns easier, but be sure you understand whether shipping costs will be deducted before you
get money back

Returns are a courtesy: Do not assume you have the right to return or exchange an unwanted
present. Consumers are bound by return policies.

Understand unusual policies: Ask about exceptions, such as sale or clearance items or intimate
apparel. Although some stores offer extended return periods during the holidays, you cannot
assume every store or website will offer it.

Time returns to avoid hassles: No one must brave the crowds the day after Christmas.
But don’t wait too long to return the item. Pick a time when the store is not likely to be
crowded.

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