What You Need to Know About Returning and Exchanging Gifts

By in Life and Time Management on 14 January 2011

You may have given somebody a wrong sized tee, an identical gift or a defective toy. The same thing probably happened to you, too. Returning or exchanging unwanted gifts is a practical way to convert a somewhat useless item into something useful. Many different reasons may make a gift unwanted so you shouldn’t feel bad about returning or exchanging them.

Each store has its own merchandise return policy. Online sites like Amazon even have specific return guidelines for different brands, particularly with electronics. Even so, there are similarities in the procedures. Here are some things you need to know before getting an RMA (return merchandise authorization).

•    Depending on the store’s policy and the state law, retailers may accept return of goods within 2 weeks up to 180 days from the date of purchase. Items bought on clearance may not be eligible for return.
•    Some stores like Walmart start counting the return period on December 26 for items bought during the Christmas season starting around November 15 to December 24. It gives the customers fair time to return unwanted gifts.
•    Check if you have a gift receipt. It is a copy of the original receipt, but the price is hidden. Without a receipt, the store may not accept the return. Some stores like Macy’s may only need the tags intact because they already have return bars on it.
•    A driver’s license is required when making returns, particularly if you don’t have a receipt on hand. Some retailers allow returns or exchanges without a receipt in exchange for a gift card with store credit.
•    If the product you’re returning has been marked down since it was bought, you may only receive credit for the lower price and not the price it was originally bought for.
•    Make sure you have the product with all of its components to return. Most retailers require tags, original packaging and all accessories to be intact when processing returns. If you open a present and immediately think that you don’t have a use for it, better not open the package at all to make returning easier.
•    A restocking fee may be deducted from your return credit, especially if the item has already been opened. This is usually the case for electronic products. Restocking fees may amount up to 20% of the price of the item.
•    Be prepared to wait as some items may need to be approved for return by a manager or the supplier first. Lines may also be packed with other people getting returns, especially after a holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving.
•    Replacements for defective items may not be readily available in the store, so be flexible and weigh out your options such as getting a different one or waiting for a back order.

Ultimately, something that’s not useful for you may be needed by another. If you don’t feel like going through the process of returning merchandise, there are always other options: selling the item, re-gifting or giving it away.

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