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Holiday returns and exchanges tips from the Better Business Bureau

December 27, 2019

Holiday returns aren’t easy. Stores are not legally required to accept exchanges or give refunds unless the merchandise was defective or misrepresented. 

While most retailers do offer refund and exchange programs as a courtesy to their customers, policies vary greatly from one store to another. Add to the mix warranties, which are usually fulfilled by the manufacturer, and holiday returns can get confusing. The following tips should help to make the holiday returns run more smoothly.

Get to know store policies. Before making a purchase, find out if the store has a return policy and, if so, how it works. Understand that policies can change during the holiday season and may not apply to sale items. If the store does allow returns or exchanges, find out if there will be a restock fee to pay. Ask the seller if they offer cash refunds, exchanges, or only store credit. Store policies are usually posted at the check-out counter or printed on the back of receipts.

Understand online store return policies. When shopping online, search for the seller’s return policy and read it through before clicking “buy.” Find out if they accept returns or exchanges, and who pays the shipping when an item is returned. In some cases, save on shipping fees by returning an online purchase to the local brick-and-mortar store.

Get the details on a product’s warranty. Most electronics and home appliances come with warranties that are to be fulfilled with the manufacturer, not the retailer. Find out how returns and repairs are handled if an item stops working or needs replacement parts. Will the retailer ship the item to the manufacturer for you? Or will you need to deal with the manufacturer directly? Knowing the answers will leave you well-prepared for any future issues.

Keep receipts and packaging. Most stores will only accept returns and exchanges if the item is with its receipt and original packaging. Always include a gift receipt with items given, and hold on to any gift receipts received.

Bring your ID. To avoid holiday return scams, many stores ask to see ID when returning an item. Sometimes retailers require ID and the original form of payment. If this is the policy of the store where the gift is from, you may need the assistance of the gift giver in order to be reimbursed.

Make returns in a timely fashion. Almost all return policies are valid during a specific time period. Some stores modify their return period during the holidays, so don’t risk missing the chance to make a return. Take the item back to the store without delay.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

 

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