Returning Unwanted Gifts?

Odds are you received at least one gift over the holidays you didn’t like. It happens almost every year to almost everyone. With some unwanted gifts, returning the item might seem like too much of a hassle to even attempt. But, why hold on to something you will never use or enjoy? Plus, someone probably put time, thought, and money into whatever the gift may be and wanted to give you something that would put a smile on your face. That’s why lots of folks include a gift receipt these days.


Here are a few tips you may find helpful if you decide to return an unwanted gift this year.

Remember These Tips

Do not open a gift you intend to return. Some retailers will not accept returned purchases with packaging that has been opened, unless the product is broken or defective. Many that do accept opened items charge what is called a “restocking fee,” which is often about 15 percent of the item’s value.

Have a valid ID with you. Lots of stores require an ID for returns even when you have a receipt for the purchase. The information they collect from IDs helps retailers identify people who try to return too many items within the time limit designated in the store’s return policy as well as criminals who try to return stolen items.

Bring the receipt with you. For a full refund, you will probably need a receipt. Some retailers will not accept returns without an original or gift receipt. Some will accept a return without a receipt but only for merchandise credit and may value the item at a lower price than it cost when originally purchased. Certain stores place a sticker on items when they are purchased that provides the same information as a receipt and such items may be returned without a receipt if the sticker is still in place.

Know each retailer’s return policy. Every retailer has its own unique return policy. Rules that apply to one store, may not apply to another. Return policies include information such as how long an item can be returned following purchase. Such deadlines are often extended for the holiday season with the timeline kicking in the day after Christmas. Retailers usually include their return policy on all receipts, as well as on their website. Make sure to read the fine-print, because you may find some important information there.

Don’t forget those unwanted gift cards. Yes, there is a way to trade in a gift card you don't want, although it may not be at the retailer who issued the card. There are websites that pay for unused gift cards from various sources, usually taking a percentage of the card’s total worth. Some “brick and mortar” stores will trade a merchandise credit or gift card of their own for an unused gift card from another retailer. Look online for more information.

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