Got a gift you didn’t want? BBB gives the skinny on returns and exchanges

ID-1009035Hard as we might try to get the perfect gift for the ones we care about, we’re bound to get it wrong sometimes. Sometimes you appreciate the sentiment, but the gift just doesn’t quite fit. If that happened to you, Your BBB has  some advice for hassle-free returns and exchanges.

In most states, stores aren’t legally required to accept items for refund, credit, or exchange unless the merchandise is defective or misrepresented. However, stores do have to comply with their own stated return policy, which should be sufficiently conveyed before the customer made the purchase.

Before you stand in a long line to return holiday gifts, we encourage you to go online to read the retailer’s return policy on their website. BBB offers this additional advice for returns and exchanges:

  • Read and understand return/exchange policies. Return policies for clearance or holiday merchandise may be different than merchandise sold at full price. Every store has its own return and exchange policy and consumers should understand the policy before expecting a full refund.
  • Keep all receipts. Without the original receipt or a gift receipt, you will not be able to get cash when you return unwanted gifts. You may be able to get a store credit or be able to exchange the item for other merchandise.
  • Mind the time. Many retailers may only allow returns within a certain time frame and that time frame usually begins when the item is purchased, not when you receive it. If you have gifts to return, do it as soon as possible.
  • Be aware of restocking fees. Some merchants charge a restocking fee for returns of electronics products or large-ticket items. If you are returning electronics, you should keep the original packaging.
  • Online retailers may not refund shipping fees. If your gift was purchased online, you may have to pay a return shipping fee, or may not be refunded for your initial shipping payment. Sometimes merchandise can be returned to a store instead.
  • If all else fails, re-gift. If you get a gift that cannot be returned, you can recycle it by giving it to someone else, listing it on an online classified site or donating it to a good cause.
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