After the gifts have been unwrapped, you might find yourself with a present or two you'd rather not keep. We know you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or struggle with getting a return accepted once you get to the store, so here are a few tried and true tips to successfully returning unwanted gifts during the post-holiday season.
1. Know Your Return Policies
Check in with each store you need to return gifts to before you arrive to learn its return policy. You may have limited time (if any) to receive cash back before you must opt for a store credit. J. Crew, for example, will only allow you to return purchases for 30 days-even if you bought the item yourself. Other stores will only refund in the form of a store credit after a certain time frame-if they allow you to return at all. You may also want to know stores' policies for returning gifts without a receipt; generally, you will only get the current selling price, so it may not be worth returning the item at all if the price has recently been deeply discounted-as often happens after the holidays. Also be aware electronics returns are often assessed a restocking fee, sometimes up to 15% of the cost of the item. Likewise items ordered online.
2. Get Receipts, If Possible
If you don't know where a gift came from, don't have a receipt, or have learned you can't return or exchange it without one, you can always ask the gift-giver for a receipt. However, consider whether it's worth it before inquiring. If the gift is inexpensive and you're worried about offending the giver, you might want to let it go. But, if you know it's pricey and you don't think the giver will be offended, pull the person aside, after all the presents have been unwrapped or a day or two later, and gingerly ask for the proof of purchase. To soften the request, you can always say you need to exchange for a different size or color.
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3. Make a Plan
To minimize your efforts, don't hit the shops blindly. If you've got a bunch of stuff to offload, chart a course for hitting all the stores in an order that allows you the least amount of backtracking and the most timesaving. Also, try to show up right when the stores open to avoid the midday returns rush.
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4. Practice Courtesy
While waiting in line can be a hassle and there is the occasional surly salesperson, folks who work retail are used to customers making returns-especially after the holidays. Be polite and honest and, most importantly, willing to accept the store's policy and you shouldn't have any problems returning or exchanging your present-even without a receipt.
5. Make the Best of Things
Don't fret if you can't return something. There are other worthy uses for even the most unwanted gifts. You can re-gift an item (but only if it's brand-new and unwrapped), donate it to charity, or stash it away and pull it out and display it the next time the gift-giver comes over to visit (which will make him or her feel extra special).
More from Kaboodle:
The Best Christmas Gifts of 2010
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photo credit: istockphoto.com
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.
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