Your Guide to Christmas Gift Returns

You’ve torn off the Christmas wrapping paper and said your thank yous, but as you peruse through your pile of gifts, one fact remains: You struck out this year, and you, my friend, have lots of returning to do. Before you spring off to the store, make sure you consider the following:

  • Understand the Retailer’s Return Policy

    Just because you haven’t ripped the tags off your new reindeer sweater, doesn’t mean the store it was purchased from will be handing over cash or crediting your account. In fact, it’s rare to get cash back from a return without a receipt. Even gift receipts will generally only net you store credit instead of cash. Understanding the retailer’s return policy will leave you less frustrated. Here is a summary of the return policies from a few of the big boys, but please make certain to check out the store’s website for complete details. Here are some return policies for some of the larger retailers:

    • First, you should know any gifts returned on Amazon are confidential so the person who gave you that lovely Dr. Who DVD boxed set will have no idea you are shipping it back. To return a gift purchased through Amazon, you will need an Amazon account. If you have the packaging slip, which came with the purchase, you enter the order number, print out return labels, and ta da, you are finished. If you don’t have the packing slip with the order number, no worries! If you contact Amazon, they will help you figure out the number. Be aware, Amazon will process your return and give you an Gift Card once your return has been received. Find easy step-by-step instructions here.

    • If you return a gift to the online Returns Center, expect the person who purchased the gift to receive a refund in the form of whatever payment was used to make the original purchase. If you return a gift in the store, with a gift receipt or packaging slip, expect to receive a merchandise credit. The majority of gifts purchased through Toys “R” Us must be returned within 90 days, but there are certain gifts, which fall into a 30-day category so make certain to check the Exceptions to the 90 Day Policy page online. For more information on Toys “R” Us returns, click here.

    • If you are returning an item from Target with a gift receipt, it needs to be within 90 days (watch out for gifts which have a modified 30 day return policy), and you can expect a Target Gift Card in return. If you are returning an item from Target without a gift receipt, other restrictions apply. Keep in mind, using the debit or credit card the gift was purchased with, Target can look up gift information, but again, if you don’t have access to that, your returns may be limited. Answers to additional questions about Target’s return policy can be found here.

    • Walmart differs from most of its competitors in that it gives cash back even if you do not have a receipt for all items under $25.00. For items over $25.00, Walmart issues a shopping card. Walmart also adjusts its limited return policy for gifts purchased between November 1st and December 24th. The limited return period doesn't begin until December 26th. This limited return period applies to most electronics, and it's important to know that, although Walmart allows 90 days for most returns, many items which fall under the limited return period need to be returned fifteen days after purchase. Get all of the nitty gritty details of Walmart's return policy here.

  • What Retailers Expect

    Regardless of where you are returning your unwanted merchandise, keep in mind, most retailers expect the returned item to be unopened and in the original packaging. In addition, many stores have a shorter window in which they allow electronics including laptops, phones, ereaders, cameras, and television sets to be returned. The bottom line: bring back gifts in the original packaging and don’t wait until spring to do it.

  • You’ve Returned the Bad Gifts, Now What?

    Embrace the after Christmas sales by focusing on that person who didn’t make your gift list, Y-O-U! Starting as early as December 26th, consumers will find prices drastically reduced. Plus, with many consumers still on vacation, it’s the perfect time for shoppers to grab a few gifts for themselves.

    Housewares, electronics, and apparel are all categories, which are difficult to pick out for another person, but something everyone loves picking up for themselves. Give yourself permission to splurge on funky art, Multi-Colored Illuminated Dancing Water Speakers, or a camo hunting jacket.

  • In Case it Gets Ugly, You Should Know, You Have Rights

    If you believe you are in compliance with a retailer’s posted return policy, and you still aren’t getting what you are entitled to, there are steps to take. You can file an online consumer complaint to help eliminate unfair business practices. In addition, should you need help getting started with getting started, sample letters of consumer complaints are available for free.

    In addition, if you feel as if you aren’t getting anywhere with your complaint, the Better Business Bureau can be an invaluable resource, and filing a complaint with them is both quick and simple. Click here to get you started:

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