Retail Return Policy Tips

You’d prefer not to have to, but we all know it happens.  You get a gift you wish you didn’t, and have to face the post-holiday return runaround.  So what are the ground rules? Do you really need that sales slip? How long can you wait? Every store has a different return policy.

According to Consumer Reports Holiday Giving Guide, yes, it is important to hang onto that sales slip.  But even without it, you can often succeed in returning goods even if you don’t play strictly by the rest of the rules of the return policy. Remain polite, and don’t assume that the first “no” you hear is the final word, since people in the same store sometimes provide contradictory information about their return policy.

To maximize the chance of a successful return, avoid cutting off any tags or discarding any packaging as long as there’s any chance an item will have to go back. Many companies have a stated return policy ranging from seven to 90 days, while others set no deadline at all.

Apparel merchants, department and discount stores and catalogs tend to offer the longest grace periods, while electronics and appliance chains have the shortest return policy periods, along with tough rules on opened packages and restocking fees. However, with persistence and politeness, it’s often possible to make a return even after the deadline. Some online and mail-order companies will even pay the shipping costs associated with a return, since they know buyers can’t examine merchandise until after they’ve bought it.

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