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Be a return-friendly gift giver this holiday

Five tips for many happy returns

Last updated: December 20, 2013 03:00 PM

You may think you've bought the perfect gift for everyone on your list, but at least some of your recipients are likely to disagree.

To help make the return process easier on your gift recipients, consider the following:

  • Check store return policies. It helps to know whether your gift recipient can return something purchased at a store's website to the store's nearest location, instead of having to box it up and ship it off. Big-box stores usually specify on their websites whether you can return something purchased online in a local store.
  • Look for restocking fees. Many retailers impose restocking fees, usually 15 percent of the product's cost, but these fees apply mostly to electronics. In general, retailers can be quick to impose restocking fees on returned electronics.
  • Know what can and can't be returned. Opened software—including video games, audio CDs and movies—usually are not returnable, though your gift recipient should be able to exchange it if the electronics gift is defective.
  • How many days after purchase are returns allowed. Many big-box stores and other merchants have regular return policies of about 60 to 90 days, but usually have shorter periods for electronics, software, CDs and DVDs. Using a certain credit card can also potentially extend the return window as well. During the holidays, retailers sometimes extend deadlines.
  • Get a gift receipt. Many merchants used to offer at least store credit to shoppers without one. These days, more turn those people away.

Check our holiday shopping guide for other tips and fun gift ideas.

Maggie Shader


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