As much as we’d like to think we’ll get the perfect gifts for everyone on our lists this holiday season, sometimes even the best laid plans of holiday shoppers go awry.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently released a survey indicating that more than one in three consumers (34.8 percent) returned at least some portion of their holiday gifts last year. And while many of us assume that our present can always be returned to the store for a quick refund or easy exchange, that isn’t always necessarily true.
Most retailers offer some sort of return or refund policy. Yet surprisingly, a BBB survey conducted by Kelton Research finds nearly 30 percent of adult consumers don’t carefully read return and exchange policies when making a purchase.
“The number of people who don’t read return and exchange policies carefully is concerning,” said Norman Wright, president and CEO, your BBB serving northwest Florida. “Though they are commonplace, not every retailer has the same policy and some even implement separate policies around special sales and holidays.”
While reading the return policy is one of the most important things a savvy holiday shopper can do, BBB has additional advice to help make gift returns as easy as possible:
- Remember, accepting returns and offering exchanges is a policy decision of the business, not necessarily the right of the consumer (unless the merchandise is defective). The business may choose to offer store credit rather than a cash refund.
- Understand each store’s return policy, as policies often vary from one business to the next.
- Save all gift receipts, warranty details, packaging materials, and other important documents. These will prove helpful if the merchant does accept returns.
- Remember that the return policies for on-sale and clearance items may be different than merchandise sold at full price.
- Many merchants charge a restocking or “open box” fee for returns of electronics products or large-ticket items.
- Some retailers have different return policies for purchases online versus in a store, so look for return policies when buying online or from catalogs.
- Health regulations may prohibit the return of hats and intimate apparel.
- Don’t wait too long to return the item. You don’t have to brave the crowds the day after opening gifts, but remember that many stores have a limited time frame in which you can make a return.
For additional information and advice you can trust, start with bbb.org.