WASHINGTON D.C., Dec 11, 2007 / — Though the number of merchandise returns have gone down due to the popularity of gift cards, returning unwanted gifts after Christmas is still a big concern for retailers, gift givers and those who receive them.
According to the National Retail Federation, 57.5% of consumers plan to hand over gift receipt with holiday gifts this year, compared to 56.7% last year. And when it comes to return policies, 87.3% of consumers polled feel that retailers’ policies are fair.
Hence, when you do your holiday shopping remember these tips to make returns easy for everybody:
- Know the retailer’s return policy before you buy. Most retailers have return policies prominently displayed, especially at this time of year. Gift-givers should read and remember them. If policies are not clearly displayed, ask a sales associate.
- Save and file all receipts! Receipts are still the key to hassle-free returns. Some retailers will allow consumers to exchange merchandise without a receipt, but without a receipt, a retailer may only provide merchandise credit for the lowest markdown-price at which the item was sold in the past 30 days.
- Provide all original packaging and all parts (including tags) when giving a gift. Some retailers won’t accept returns unless the item is in its original package. If you plan to take back a gift when it is unwrapped, resist the urge to open it or play with it. No one wants to buy someone else’s merchandise.
- Ask for a gift receipt to make gift returns easier. Ask the retailer if they issue gift receipts. These receipts contain all the necessary information to prove the items were purchased, minus the price.
- Make your online returns easy! Returns are a part of shopping, no matter where you choose to shop. In addition to the other common sense rules of returns, here are a few things to find out before you purchase a gift online:
- Know the process – Who pays for shipping the return–you or the merchant? Some merchants will pick up the delivery charges for exchanges, but not for returns.
- Where to make returns – Does the retailer have a physical store, and can returns or exchanges be made there?
- Make sure you have the correct address if you need to mail returns back to the company. Some merchants have off-site service centers that handle returns that may be in a different location from where the merchandise is sent.
- Don’t delay! Consumers should plan to make returns as soon as possible after the holidays to take advantage of extended hours and extra help, and to get the best selection of merchandise for an alternate gift.
Remember, the week after Christmas is one of the busiest weeks of the retail year. With people’s frustration high and tolerance low, be patient when returning merchandise.