CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Newsletter) – Holiday returns aren’t easy! And we don’t mean the part where you explain to your mother why you returned the sweater she gave you.
Stores are not legally required to accept exchanges or give refunds unless the merchandise was defective or misrepresented. 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.
The following tips should help to make your holiday returns run more smoothly.
Get to know store policies. Before you make a purchase, find out if the store has a return policy and, if so, how it works. Understand that many retailers change their policies for the holiday season. If the store allows returns or exchanges, find out if you need to pay a restocking fee. Ask the seller if they offer cash refunds, exchanges, or only store credit.
Store policies are usually posted at the check-out counter or printed on the back of receipts.
Understand online store return policies.
If you are shopping online, search for the seller’s return policy and read it through before clicking “buy.” Find out if they accept returns or exchanges and who pays for the shipping when an item is returned. In some cases, you can save on shipping fees by returning an online purchase to the local brick-and-mortar store. See more of our tips for hassle-free returns for online purchases here.
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 for you? Or will you need to deal with the manufacturer directly? Knowing the answers will leave you well-prepared for any future issues.
Keep your receipt and packaging.
Most stores will only accept returns and exchanges if you can present the item with its receipt and original packaging. Always include a gift receipt with items you give, and hold on to any gift receipts you receive.
Bring your ID.
Many stores ask to see your ID when you return an item to avoid holiday return scams. Sometimes retailers require you to bring your ID and the original form of payment. If this is the policy of the store where your gift is from, you 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, so don’t risk missing yourchance to make your return. Take the item back to the store without delay.