7 Tips for Hassle-free Holiday Returns

One of my least favorite things to do is return items to the store.  I know I’m not alone.  It is such a drag many of us simply toss unwanted presents into a closet with the hopes of re-gifting them in the future. The National Retail Federation estimates that returns will total $46 billion – a record number. Returns fell into three main scenarios; it didn’t fit, they didn’t like it, or they got two of the same thing.

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If you have gifts you need to take back Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc offers us these 7 tips to make holiday returns a little hassle-free:

1. Research the Return Policy – Retailers with websites almost always post their return policies. They may be difficult to find at first, so search under links for “Customer Service,” “FAQ” or “Help.” You’ll find lots of small type, but it’s worth reading through all the mouse scrawlings to know exactly what you’ll face.

2. Keep an Eye on the Date – Some stores have extended the number of days during which you can return holiday gifts, but most still hold to their standard policy. Remember the expiration date is from the time of purchase. In “Return rules at 8 big retailers” published last year, Consumer Reports found the average return period ranged from 30 to 180 days.

3. Keep the Gift Receipt  – If some thoughtful friend or loved one was kind enough to include a gift receipt, this is your golden ticket for exchanges or returns. Keep in mind that, because such receipts don’t indicate the purchase price, the store likely will only reimburse you at the going rate.

4. If You Don’t Have a Receipt.….bring an ID. More than 60 percent of retailers require a customer to show ID when returning an item without a receipt. This is because some stores limit how many times you can return purchases within a set time period.

5. Avoid Shipping Charges – Many major retailers — but not all — will accept returns of online purchases at their brick-and-mortar stores. You might have to wait in line, but you’ll save a bundle on shipping and the hassle of re-boxing a gift and mailing it out.

6. Resell Gift Cards – You don’t need a receipt to exchange unwanted gift cards for cash. Visit, where you can resell gift cards to several companies for a percentage of the face value.

7. Don’t Open What You Don’t Want – Because the merchant can’t resell opened items as new, you could be charged a hefty restocking fee just for cracking the lid. Amazon cranks up the charge to 50 percent for software, used books and DVDs; but Overstock takes the cake at 60 percent for open or used products.

In addition, Toys “R” Us will let shoppers return gifts that were purchased in September through the first week of the New Year, but this does apply to electronics, where the return window is often 15 to 30 days. Walmart will start counting those days beginning Dec. 26.

Best Buy’s return period runs until Jan. 24. Amazon won’t accept returns of computers, laptops or Kindles more than 30 days after they were delivered.

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About the author

Lisa Arneill

Founder of Growing Your Baby and World Traveled Family. Canadian mom of 2 boys, photo addict, lover of bulldogs, and museumgoer. Always looking for our next vacation spot!

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