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BBB tip: Hassle-free gift returns and exchanges

Better Business Bureau

According to the National Retail Federation, one in three consumers (38 percent) are expected to return at least some portion of their holiday gifts. If you are buying gifts during the great sales leading up to Christmas, you need to keep the recipient in mind.

“The ‘return clock’ starts ticking the day you buy the gift,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy, “not the day you give the gift.”

The same survey from the National Retail Foundation, indicated that nearly three in ten (29 percent) consumers don’t carefully read return and exchange policies when making a purchase in a store or online.

“Not every retailer has the same return policy and some businesses even implement separate policies around special sales and holidays,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy. “We encourage you to carefully read and make sure you understand all policies that come with your purchases.”

BBB has the following advice for hassle-free returns and exchanges:

  • Keep your receipts. If you are giving the purchase as a gift, ask for a gift receipt and enclose it with the present. This will facilitate returning the gift.
  • Read the retailer’s return policy before you purchase products. Make sure you understand whether you, or the recipient of your gift, can get a refund, exchange or store credit for unwanted merchandise.
  • Monitor the “return clock.” Many retailers may only allow returns within a certain time frame and that time frame usually begins when the item is purchased, not when it is given.
  • Understand return policies for sale merchandise. Return policies for sale or clearance merchandise may be different than merchandise sold at full price.
  • Don’t remove electronics from their boxes. Some stores will not accept returns unless the merchandise is in its original packaging.
  • Ask about restocking fees. Some merchants charge a restocking fee for returns of electronics products or large-ticket items.
  • Ask about return shipping fees. Be sure to read return policies when buying online or from catalogs to find out if you have to pay a return shipping fee. Sometimes merchandise can be returned to a store instead of the online merchant.

For more information, please visit BBB or call 1-877-317-7236 toll-free in N.C. and S.C.

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