Make the Most of Holiday Returns

By Amy Maliga, Take Charge America

If you feel guilty about wanting to return or exchange a not-quite-right gift you received during the holidays, don’t! You’re not alone. The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans return or exchange more than $50 billion worth of gifts every year.

While you might feel a moment of hesitation asking the gift-giver for a receipt, it’s much better to return or exchange a gift you know you won’t use than to leave it unused, unloved, and destined for the next garage sale or charity donation bag.

Take a look at these four tips to help make returning or exchanging holiday gifts easy and stress free:

Bring the Receipt – Holiday returns will go much more smoothly if you have the original receipt or a gift receipt. Receipts are especially helpful if the item you’re returning or exchanging has been marked down, or if you wait more than a month to make the return.

Don’t Wait – The sooner your return or exchange your gift, the better chance you have of maximizing its value. Stores turn stock quickly. If you wait, you may not be able to exchange for another color or size. Retailers also do lots of markdowns immediately after the holidays. The longer you wait to return, the less chance you have of receiving the item’s full value.

Do Your Research – Check out the store’s return policy online so you know what to expect when you reach the customer service counter. Return policies vary widely, and you’ll save yourself time and frustration if you know what you’re dealing with beforehand. Nordstrom, Costco, Kohl’s, and Target are among the retailers widely considered to have the most customer-friendly return policies.

Be Patient & Flexible – You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” That rule definitely applies to holiday returns. Remember that employees are obligated to follow their stores’ return policies and asking them to violate it could lead to termination. Simply being patient, pleasant, and flexible will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth transaction.

Following these four tips will ensure you have the best return experience possible.