7 Tips for Painless Returns and Exchanges

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Now that the holidays are over, you may realize that some of the gifts you received aren’t what you really wanted. It’s a common practice to take an unwanted item (or an item that doesn’t  fit or is in some way unsatisfactory) back to the store at which it was purchased to receive a refund for the purchase price or to exchange it for a more suitable item. In fact, according to a Consumer Reports Magazine poll, one in five Americans is expected to return at least one item this holiday season.

It certainly isn’t frugal to keep items for which you have no need. The smart thing to do (especially if you are opposed to the concept of “re-gifting”) is to turn your undesirable or unwanted gifts into cash, store credit or a more suitable item.

But the truth is that stores are in no way required to allow you to return or exchange items. Those that do are offering a courtesy to their customers, in hopes of growing and maintaining their satisfaction and continued loyalty. The important thing to do before heading to a store for a refund or exchange is to be aware of the particular store’s policies on the subject. Be prepared for what they offer and what you need  in order to complete the transaction and your refund or exchange should go seamlessly.

Keep these tips in mind when returning or exchanging:

  1. Some stores require a receipt, others don’t. If you have a receipt by all means bring it. Even if it’s not required, it can’t hurt to have a means of proving the value of the item you’re returning. Without a receipt, the store won’t necessarily give you the full value of the item but rather the most recent sale price.
  2. Some stores offer only store credit for returns — no actual money back. It’s not always possible to get the value of the item in hand to go spend at a different store. Often the policy is to provide your refund in the form of a gift card, loaded with the amount of your return.
  3. Some stores have a time limit within which returns and exchanges must be made. Make sure you are aware of the time frame in which a given store will make returns and exchanges. Waiting too long to take the merchandise back may result in a missed opportunity.
  4. Some stores require I.D. for returns or exchanges. This protects the store from those who would seek to take advantage of their policy. By keeping track of exactly who is making returns and/or exchanges, they can identify those who are conducting those transactions with unreasonable regularity.
  5. Some items may not eligible for return or exchange. Certain items, such as books, software and music which have been opened and clearance merchandise may not be eligible for return at all.
  6. Some stores charge a “restocking fee” for returned or exchanged items. This is a fee will be charged to you for returning some items back into stock.
  7. Some online stores offer return to their brick and mortar location. Stores which have both physical locations and online shopping sometimes allow you to return and exchange merchandise purchased online at their stores. It’s a convenient alternative if available.

While it’s nice to receive a gift in the first place, there’s no sense to keeping something you don’t want. Returns and exchanges allow you to utilize the giver’s thoughtful investment to get a gift that’s just right for you. Armed with a little knowledge, it should be be easy to have many happy returns!

Bonus Tip:

Another way to save on your monthly Internet and TV costs is to find a current ATT U-Verse coupon code or at least a promotion to knock down your home service bill.

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