Five Tips for Returning Those Unwanted Holiday Gifts Without Hassle or Unexpected Surprises
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Five Tips for Returning Those Unwanted Holiday Gifts Without Hassle or Unexpected Surprises

If you want to avoid much of the stress that often comes along with holiday gift returns, take note of these helpful tips

December 30, 2020

We've all been there. It was a great holiday with friends and family, yet you have a gift or two that you simply don't want or can't use. Do you return your unwanted gifts, re-gift them to someone else, or hide them away in the back of a closet? The decision is yours. But if you choose to return gifts, keep these five simple tips in mind before heading out to make it as quick and easy as possible!

Think before you open

Some merchants won't accept returns if an item has been opened, especially if it has damaged packaging or missing tags. It's one thing if you opened a shoe box only to realize the style wasn't right. It's another story when it comes to high-priced and electronics items, which may not be returnable or may incur a hefty restocking fee if opened.

Most digital items, such as computer software, CDs, and DVDs, generally aren't returnable once they are opened to prevent piracy. In limited circumstances, an exchange is allowed for an identical product that is opened by the merchant at the time of exchange.

Keep all gift Receipts

These days, more merchants will turn you away if you don't have a receipt. And in most cases where a return without a receipt is accepted, you're probably only going to get store credit. Since merchants discount items heavily after Christmas, you may only get a fraction of the item's original cost.

If you didn't get a gift receipt, you may be out of luck unless you're prepared to ask the gift giver for it. If that seems too daunting, you can give an innocent reason, such as wanting an exchange because it doesn't fit properly, doesn't work properly, etc. And then you can say you had to get something else because no suitable exchanges were available. We won't tell!

Check return policies and time limits right away

Check out a merchant's return policies once you realize you might want to return something. You may only have a few days after Christmas to return something if it was purchased at the end of November with a 30 day return window. Most retailers, however, give a longer return window during the holidays because they know people buy gifts in advance.

The only way you will know is if you check return policies before you find out that you're out of luck. The return window, as well as any restocking fees, should be on the receipt if you have it or on the merchant's website.

Bring Your ID

Most merchants require a government-issued ID to make a return without a receipt, and some even require it for returns with a receipt. They use your ID to track how often you return products, but it's primarily used for returns without a receipt to catch thieves who steal a lot of merchandise and return it for quick cash or store credit. But they still want to know which shoppers have a habit of returning merchandise, even if you paid cash.

Know the Options for online merchandise

If an item was purchased online and the merchant has walk-in store locations, check the merchant's website to see if you can return it at a store. This way you can avoid packing and a trip to the post office, as well as costly shipping fees. If shipping it back is the only option, make sure you follow the merchant's policies to the letter and have some kind of tracking information for the shipment.