Perhaps that snazzy electric blue sweater from your favorite aunt isn't quite your type, or maybe that awesome Forever Lazy loungewear you won in the White Elephant gift exchange is a little snug. Don't worry. You're one of the millions expected to hit the stores this week to return or exchange holiday gifts.
According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers returned a record-high $46.28 billion in holiday merchandise in 2011. It remains to be seen if recipients were happier with their gifts this year.
Here's a short checklist to help your trip back to the busy stores, malls and shopping centers a little smoother:
Refunds and Exchanges Checklist
- Know the seller’s return policy and timeline. Retailers often provide extended return/exchange holiday timeframes. Circle those dates on your calendar to avoid missing the date(s).
- Be aware that return policies vary, so confirm before purchasing. Common return policies include cash-back, a credit card refund, a corporate refund check or store credit.
- Check if there are restocking fees for returned items.
- Save your receipt along with any other documentation regarding the purchase. Your receipt serves as proof of purchase.
- Do not open the box. Some businesses will only provide you with a full refund if the merchandise remains in an unopened box. Do note that some retailers will only provide exchanges for open box items.
- Wait a few days to return your item(s) to avoid the "return rush." Shops on Dec. 26 will likely be swarming with return-to-sender shoppers, so if you want to avoid the crowds, give it a few days before you set out to make exchanges or returns.