5 Rules to Hassle Free Gift Returns

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I have a relative (that shall remain nameless) who always shops in the boys section when buying me shirts. I should be flattered that she thinks I’m so young, but in truth, it’s a hassle returning virtually any gift she gives me. The end result is that I find myself standing in line at the returns counter every Christmas and birthday. With all of that experience, I have become a kind of expert at returning gifts. Here is what I’ve learned:
Rule #1
Always have a receipt. Chances are that if you are returning a gift that was given to you, getting the original receipt is not going to be easy. However, a gift receipt will do just fine. Be prepared to get a store credit if the item was charged.
I usually explain to my relative that the item doesn’t fit and ask for the receipt if the gift was given without a gift receipt.
If you don’t have a receipt, you might get lucky enough to receive a store credit, but you will be given the lowest sale price at which the item was recently sold.
Rule #2
Keep the original packaging intact. That means do not open the package or remove tags. No store wants to accept a return of a product they suspect could have been used or tried on. This rule is especially true of electronic devices.
Rule #3
Don’t delay.
You probably don’t want to brave the return lines the day after Christmas or New Years. However, you don’t want to wait weeks either. Most stores have a policy requiring you to make your return within 30 days of the holiday.
Rule #4
Be patient. You know that the rest of the world is in line in front of you, returning their ugly sweaters and other unwanted gifts. So, don’t get angry or impatient. That overworked and underpaid clerk is not going to want to work with you or bend any rules, if you present an attitude along with your returned merchandise.
While you are waiting in line, go ahead and read the store’s return policy. It’s right there, posted on the wall. By the time it’s your turn at the counter, you should have all of your ducks in a row. If you are asking for something outside of the stores rules, that is an accommodation and the store is not required to give it to you…so be nice.
Online purchases are another story altogether. Returning online purchases involves another set of rules and considerations. It’s best to understand the site’s return policy before you make an online purchase. Here are some things you need to consider:

  • Where can you return the merchandise? Do you have to mail it back or can you take it to a local brick and mortar store?
  • Is there a restocking fee? Some websites will charge you a fee to return merchandise ordered online.
  • Who pays for shipping? Chances are fairly good that you will be paying for the return shipping unless you received a product other than what you ordered or one that is defective.
  • How are exchanges handled? Maybe you really like that purple crushed velvet sweater with the orange reindeer frolicking across the front. I won’t judge you. Maybe you got it in the wrong size and want to exchange it for one size bigger. That’s an exchange, and the rules could be a little different. Be sure to understand how the website handles exchanges.

Knowing and following the store or website’s return and exchange policy is the key to returning your unwanted gifts quickly and with the least amount of hassle. If you know the rules and play nicely, chances are very good that you will get through the entire process with your sanity intact.

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