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How To Kill It While Making Your Holiday Gift Returns & Exchanges

January 2, 2015 by Claudia Saide
shefinds | Style

The holidays are officially over (wahhhh), and there’s only one thing left to do—return those gifts that you really have no use for. We know, post-holiday season returns and exchanges are a total pain in the ass, but they really don’t have to be as long as you know what you’re doing. With a little preparation and guidance from us, your returns and exchanges can be way easier than in years past. We figured you’d need some direction, so we’ve outlined some tips that’ll totally help you make your holiday returns a lot less painless—in fact, you might even feel accomplished, because these pointers are really gonna help you kill it.

  •  Make sure the product is intact. If you’re planning to return something, it’s best that it’s left unopened and in its original packaging.
  •  Don’t use it. The last thing you want to do is damage something that you plan to bring back.
  •  Learn the store’s return and exchange policy. Every retailer has a different policy on returns and exchanges—some stores might have a 30 day window, while others give you an entire three months to bring something back.
  •  Once you’ve learned the retailer’s window for returns and exchanges, make sure you get to the store before time is up. Obviously the sooner you return the better, but some retailers alter their return policies in favor of the consumer during the holidays. For example, Walmart’s return time limit for anything purchased between November 1st and December 24th didn’t even begin until December 26th, giving people that much extra time to bring products back. So if the gift was purchased on Black Friday, the time limit to return didn’t begin until the day after Christmas.
  •  Act quickly if you’re looking to make an exchange. If all that you plan to do is swap the size of a particular product, the sooner you do it the better—your chances of finding it will be better than if you wait.
  •  Understand that something purchased on sale might be subject to different rules. Usually sale merchandise is held to a stricter return policy than something purchased at full price, so if your gifter got a deal on what they got, you may not get what you’re expecting when you return it.
  •  Make sure you have the receipt. Having a receipt makes returns and exchanges a whole lot smoother. It also ensures that the retailer will honor the full value of what the purchaser paid, even if the product’s price has been reduced at the time you’re making the return.
  •  If you weren’t provided a gift receipt, just ask.  Come up with a really good reason to ask the gifter where the product was purchased. If you’re returning or exchanging a sweater, just tell them that it doesn’t fit.
  •  If you know where the product was purchased, call customer service. With a little information, you can likely get the retailer’s customer service to look up the purchase record and send you a receipt.
  •  Organize what receipts you do have on an app like One Receipt. This way if you do lose the paper receipt, you have a record of it on your phone.
  •  Sometimes the tags act as a receipt. Retailers like Nordstrom and Macy’s use barcodes on tags to look up purchases, which is a great thing when you don’t have a receipt.
  •  Know what you’ll get in exchange for the product. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be getting cash back for a product; you’ll probably end up with a store credit or gift card.
  •  Avoid shipping fees by returning to a brick and mortar. Many retailers allow it, but double check the store policy before you head to the actual store, because certain stores, like H&M, do not.
  •  Bring your ID. Some retailers, like Zara, ask for identification when issuing a return, so make sure that it’s in your wallet.
  •  Be aware of restocking fees. Sometimes retailers charge a fee for returns, but it’s always written in the return policy.
  •  Sell or trade gift cards. If you feel that you have no use for a gift card to the retailer you returned your gift to, either swap it or sell it on Cardpool or Gift Card Granny—just be advised that if you do sell it, you will receive less cash than the actual gift card’s valued for.
  •  Be nice—especially if you’re showing up with no receipt and a blatantly opened box—sometimes when you’re super sweet, the staffer assisting you will hook you up with an even return, even though technically they’re not supposed to.
  •  Tackle everything in one day—it’ll be really intense, but if you just get it over with, you won’t have to think about it again (until next year).
  •  If all else fails, there’s always eBay. If you realize that you don’t want the gift only after you’ve tried it out, just put it up for auction on eBay, someone is bound to want it.

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