Many Happy Returns: 5 Tips for Getting What You Really Want This Holiday
Even the most appreciative of recipients get something they really can’t use. Whether it was an article of clothing in the wrong size, a tasteless item of décor, or a foodstuff that you’re allergic to, a touching sentiment can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth. If you have your heart set on returning your holiday gift for something more suitable, following these five simple tips can make it a bearable experience.
Don’t open it! Unless a restocking fee of up to 20% sounds like a good idea, keep that box sealed in its original factory condition, if possible. While it may not always be possible to tell if you will be keeping your gift until after you open it, many electronics, appliances, and collectibles loose value after their seal has been broken. (The same rule goes for excessively shaking, poking, or bending items.)
Go early. Don’t mess around with returning your gift item. If you’re certain it won’t work out, get back to the store ASAP. Find out what time the store opens and get there as early in the morning as possible. Lines start forming in the customer service areas of many big box stores within hours after opening. By taking your enthusiasm for a new gift and putting it towards an early morning return trip, you can avoid hassles and look forward to more time with the right gift!
Bring a receipt. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it surprises me how many people have a receipt, yet fail to bring it. While many stores will do a limited number of returns for people without receipts, they are getting strict with their policies. In an attempt to recoup some losses and avoid fraudulent returns, some stores may only accept 2-3 returns without a receipt from each person per calendar year. Many stores will generate copies of receipts for customers using their driver’s license or the credit card used to make the purchase.
Take a breath. Many people will be trying to return their gifts the week after the holidays, so try to relax a bit. Long lines, snappy customers, tired employees, and a general mood of confusion may meet you at the customer service department. Remember why you’re there, keep focused, and don’t contribute to the problems by being unpleasant in any way.
Be responsible. Enter the store knowing what you will do once you have returned your gift. If you’re just exchanging for a like item, you’re all set! Exit the store as soon as possible to avoid any impulse shopping of more stuff you don’t need. If you are getting cash for your return, know in advance what it will be used for, and stick to your list! The after-Christmas sales can be tempting, and stores are hoping you will spend that money in the store before you leave. If you are planning on buying something else with the money, don’t feel like you have to get it that same day. Prices may drop even lower as the weeks pass after the holidays, and comparison shopping is best done when you aren’t tired and frustrated from the return process.
Sadly, a recent poll by Inside Indiana Business reports that 13 percent of consumers want to return items, but feel that it is too much of a hassle. If you are confident that your perfect gift is out there, take these steps to ensure that you can have it, with minimal effort and aggravation!