How to Return Presents Painlessly

Posted on 12/26/2011

If the trash can is full of crumpled wrapping paper and you can see the Christmas tree skirt again it’s time to take back those unwanted gifts and get what you were really hoping for this holiday season. According to Consumer Reports, one in five people plan to take back a gift, but if you don’t want to end up starring in your own rendition of the Nightmare after Christmas, consider these tips for returning presents painlessly.

Don’t Use the Gift If you don’t want the gift don’t wear it, tear the tags off of it or leave it in your trunk next to a spare gas can for three months. Return it in the same condition you received it in order to experience the least amount of hassle.

Research Return Policies
Before simply assuming that the store will welcome your gift back with open arms, set proper expectations. Consumer Reports created this rundown of return policies for eight big retailers including Amazon, Sears and Toys R Us. Most retailers also post their return policies online.

Go During Off-Peak Hours
As you can imagine, being a retail employee this time of year is exhausting. Hitting a store’s customer service counter during off-peak hours will increase your chances of encountering a well-rested, non-disgruntled employee who wants to help you with your dilemma. In other words, avoid weekend afternoons if at all possible.

Consider a Different Retailer
If the item you’re trying to return is sold at several stores, try heading to the retailer with the most lenient return policy first. However, let’s say you got a DVD player, but what you really want is a Blu-ray player. If both models are sold at Walmart, head there first. Often exchanges are easier to negotiate then returning an item for cash.

Choose a Store You Like
If you have a choice as to where to return your unwanted present, you may want to go to the store you like best. That way if you get saddled with a gift card instead of cash you may actually be able to find something useful to spend it on.

Know When to Give Up
Sometimes returning gifts is impossible and it’s not your fault—you can blame the giver. If the item is out of its’ original packaging or there’s no gift receipt in sight, no matter how much you detest the gift you may be stuck with it. Don’t let it taint your holiday spirit. Instead, consider donating the item or selling it on eBay. It may require more work, but hopefully you’ll still end up with a gift you prefer.

By Alison Storm

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