Top tips for hassle-free holiday gift returns

Want to take back those unwanted presents, no muss, no fuss? Follow these five handy tips from Consumer Reports.

Of course you love your Aunt Gertrude, but the Bedazzler she bought for you this Christmas wasn't exactly the gift you'd hoped for.
If you're thinking of returning it -- or any of the other gifts you received -- Consumer Reports has put together these handy tips to make sure your return is hassle-free:

1. Be sure before you open that box: Merchants can impose a restocking fee (often 15 percent of the product's cost), and many do for electronics items. Products such as computer software, CDs, and DVDs aren't generally returnable once they're opened. It might also be hard to return products with damaged packaging or missing tags.

2. Keep all gift receipts: These days, more merchants will turn you away if you don't have a receipt. If you didn't get a gift receipt with a product you want to return, you may be out of luck, unless you're prepared to ask the giver for the receipt.

3. Check store return procedures online and note any time limits: Big merchants usually allow 90 days for returns of most items but might have far shorter periods for electronics, software, and CDs and DVDs. During the holidays, however, some retailers will extend their deadlines.

4. Bring your ID: Some companies require a government-issued ID with a receipt. That way, they can track serial returners even if the transaction is in cash.

5. Know your options: If an item was purchased online and the merchant has walk-in store locations, check the merchant's website to see if you can return it at a store and avoid repacking and a trip to the post office, as well as shipping fees.

 

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