Howard Schwartz of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau has some tips on what you need to know when returning or exchanging gifts this holiday season.
Below is a full press release on the topic from the Connecticut Better Business Bureau. For more information, visit www.ct.bbb.org.
When should consumers prepare for holiday gift returns and exchanges? The time is now, according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau.
Anyone who has ever stood in a customer service line after December 26th knows that lots of gifts don’t hit the spot. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), one in three consumers – 38 percent – will return at least some of their holiday gifts. That same NRF survey also reveals 29 percent of consumers don’t carefully read return and exchange policies when making a purchase in a store or online.
“Whether you are buying a gift for yourself or someone else, you should be aware of the terms and conditions of a retailer’s returns policy,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti.
Retailers are not obliged to accept merchandise that is not damaged, however, most do, though returns and exchange policies vary considerably.
Retailers are required by law to post terms, conditions and exclusions prominently in their stores and on their websites. This information includes a timeframe for returns, information regarding whether the store will issue a credit or a refund, and what items – such as merchandise marked for clearance – may not be eligible for return. Laws forbid the return or exchange of certain items of clothing for health reasons.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau has some advice for shoppers and gift recipients to make the returns procedure go smoothly:
Remember shipping costs
This applies to online purchases, so whether you’re buying for someone else or yourself – that is an added expense. If you buy an item from a retailer’s online catalogue, find out whether the gift can be returned directly to a store.
Don’t open it
This applies most to electronic items packed in hard shell cases and similarly packaged merchandise. Remember that if you open the packaging, the item can no longer be sold as new, and re-stocking fees can range from a few dollars to as much as 50 percent of the item’s value.
If it’s not a burlap scarf – you might want to keep it as a gift for someone else next year. Even though these weird gifts may not make us happy, who’s to say someone else wouldn’t just love them.
Watch the “return clock”
Many retailers may only allow returns within a certain time frame and that window usually opens when the item is purchased, not when you receive it. If you have gifts to return, you don’t have to run out the next day. You can avoid the lines if you wait a few days.
You will find additional, helpful holiday and consumer tips at www.bbb.org.