BBB’s tips to avoiding holiday headaches when exchanging/returning misfit gifts


Submitted story

COLUMBUS – One celebration almost down and New Years to go – the holiday headache of attempting to return and exchange misfit gifts hits full force between the holidays.

Stores are not legally required to accept exchanges or give refunds unless the merchandise was defective or misrepresented.

Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio (BBB) President Judy Dollison warns, “While most retailers do offer refund and exchange programs, policies vary greatly from one store to another. Be sure to double-check policies this holiday season, even if you are familiar with the brand, as stores can change their policies whenever they want.”

These tips should help holiday returns run more smoothly.

Know store policies. Determine if the store has a return policy and, if so, how it works. Many retailers change their policies for the holiday season. Store policies are usually posted at the check-out counter or printed on the back of receipts.

If the store allows returns or exchanges, weigh the cost of a restocking fee, after determining if one is charged.

Inquire what kind of recourse is offered: cash refunds, exchanges, or only store credit.

Understand online store return policies. When shopping online, search for the seller’s return policy and read it through before clicking “buy.”

Find out if the store accepts returns or exchanges and who pays for the shipping when an item is returned.

Consumers may be able to save on shipping fees by returning an online purchase to the local brick-and-mortar store.

Get the details on a product’s warranty. Most electronics and home appliances come with warranties that are to be fulfilled by the manufacturer, not the retailer.

Find out how the store handles returns and repairs if an item stops working or needs replacement parts.

Will the retailer ship the item to the manufacturer? Or will you need to deal with the manufacturer directly?

Keep receipts and packaging. Most stores will only accept returns and exchanges with an item’s receipt and original packaging.

Always include a gift receipt with items.

Always hold on to any gift receipts received.

Bring an ID. Many stores ask for identification to help them avoid holiday return scams. Sometimes retailers require an ID and the original form of payment. Consumers may need the assistance of the gift-giver in order to be reimbursed.

Make returns in a timely fashion. Almost all return policies are valid during a specific time period. Some stores modify their return period during the holidays. Take items back to the store without delay to avoid missing the return window.

For more holiday tips, visit the BBB Holiday Tips page.

Info from Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio

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