California Shopping

5 Tips for Holiday Gift Returns

You made it through Part A of the holiday--the shopping. If our Christmas Day stroll was any indication of the gifts people received this year, cameras, smart phones, cell phones and electronics were among the top gifts Californians put to use immediately. Approx. 70% of holiday shoppers say they will provide a gift receipt if needed, wanting their loved ones to make the most out of their presents rather than feel guilty for returning them.

5 Tips for stress-free returns after the holidays:

1. Know the retailer's return policy before you go. It usually is posted on the receipt, inside the packaging or when you call the store they will tell you.

2. Save and file all receipts! Receipts are still the key to hassle-free returns. Some retailers will allow consumers to exchange merchandise without a receipt, but oftentimes will only provide merchandise credit for the lowest markdown price at which the item was sold during the holiday season. Make sure to provide the recipient with a gift receipt to save hassle after the holidays.

3. Provide all original packaging and all parts (including tags) when giving a gift or returning it to a store. Some retailers won't accept returns unless the item is in its original package. If you plan to take back a gift after it is unwrapped, resist the urge to open it or play with it. No one wants to buy someone else's merchandise, and on certain merchandise there is a re-stocking fee.

4. Make online returns easy. Returns are a part of shopping, no matter where you buy. In addition to the other rules of returns, here are a few things to find out before you purchase a gift online:

- Know the process: Who pays for return shipping you or the merchant? Some merchants will pick up the delivery charges for exchanges, but not for returns; others offer free return shipping on every return.
- Where to make returns: Does the retailer have a physical store, and can returns or exchanges be made there? Make sure you have the correct address if you need to mail returns back to the company. Some merchants have offsite service centers to handle returns that may be in a different location from where the merchandise is sent.

5. Be patient. Remember, the week after Christmas is one of the busiest weeks of the year for retailers. With people's frustration high and tolerance low, be patient when returning merchandise.

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