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Tips for Returning Unwanted Gifts

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Tips for Returning Unwanted Gifts

With Christmas in the rearview mirror, it’s time to deal with the aftermath. Did you love your gifts? Or did some of them miss the mark? While it’s the thought that counts, you may be thinking about returning or exchanging one or more of your gifts.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a few tips for returning unwanted gifts.

Bring the receipt

First and foremost, bring the receipt. While you don’t always have a choice in the matter, having a receipt makes a world of difference when making a return. No, I’m not suggesting that you ask the giver for the receipt — that would be awkward. But if you have access to the receipt (perhaps there was a gift receipt tucked in the box?) then be sure to bring it with you.

Without the receipt, you’ll likely get credit for the lowest price that the product was sold for in recent months. And, in many cases, that will be far below what the gift giver actually paid.

Bring your ID

In an effort to combat fraud, many retailers now require ID to make a return. This isn’t a huge deal, as most people bring their driver’s license wherever they go, but… There’s nothing worse than waiting in a long line at the service desk only to be turned away. So do yourself a favor and double check that you have your ID before heading out the door.

Know the timeline

Another important thing is to know the allowable timeline for making a return after Christmas. Many retailers have a relaxed return policy for at least 30 days following Christmas, but that’s not always the case. This is especially true when it comes to certain electronics, which may only have a 7-14 day return policy.

So… While it’s good to wait a few days to let the customer service lines die down, you need to be aware of the applicable time limits.

Don’t open packages

If possible, leave the packaging intact. In most cases, stores won’t accept returns on music, movies, or video games if the shrink wrap has been broken. Yes, you can swap a defective item for an identical replacement, but you won’t be able to get your money back or exchange it for something else.

And when it comes to clothing, some stores are cracking down and refusing returns if the tags have been removed, so… Be sure to leave those tags in place until you’re sure you want to keep it.

Beware the restocking fee

Related to the above, if you open a package before making a return, you may face a “re-stocking” fee of as much as 15%. Such fees are standard fare on certain items — such as high end electronics — and can really take a bite out of your return. If you do open the item, re-package it carefully and enclose everything that came with it.

Or consider re-gifting…

If all else fails… Consider re-gifting. Just be sure to keep it out of the same social circle so there won’t be any hurt feelings.

Published on December 28th, 2011
Modified on January 6th, 2012 - Leave a Comment
Filed under: Consumer

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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