It happens every Christmas, we all receive a present that we don't like or don't need but it's not always easy returning unwanted gifts.
According to the annual survey by ConsumerWorld.org, the refund policies at most major retailers are the same as last year, with a few notable exceptions.
Here are several things you need to know before you return unwanted items:
- Target tightened its return policy for the second time in two years. The return period for digital items such as computers, video game consoles, GPS units and digital cameras is now 30 days instead of 45 days.
- Sears shortened its "extended holiday return period" from 120 days across the board. Items that qualify for a 30 day and 60 day return can now be brought back until Jan. 24, and in some cases, later. Sears also charges a 15 percent restocking fee if they determine the item is "used" or has missing parts.
- Be careful how you handle your gifts. Don't wear clothing. Keep all the packaging. Don't even open the box, especially for electronic items, if you know it's going back.
- Toys "R" Us will now let you return an electronic product after the package has been opened. In the past, they would not.
- At Overstock.com, you could pay as much as 60 percent of the purchase price to return something that's been opened or used.
- Buy.com also expanded its holiday return period from Jan. 31 to Feb. 15.
- Receipts are the key to easy returns and most stores won't accept a return without a receipt. If they do take back an item without a receipt, you may only get the lowest price that item sold for in the past 90 days.
- While it's important for gift givers to include a "gift receipt," most stores won't let you use that to get a refund, only an equal exchange, merchandise credit or gift card.
- Don't assume you can take an Internet purchase back to a company's physical store. Sports Authority won't take back any online purchases at its stores.
- Some items sold by OldNavy.com, Gap.com and BananaRepublic.com must be returned by mail.
- You will only get a merchandise credit if you take back something purchased at ToysRUs.com to a Toys "R" Us store.
- Some online retailers will cover the cost of that return. Others make you pay to send it back.
- If you follow the rules, you shouldn't have many problems. Just remember, those rules vary from store to store. You need to understand that company's policy before you head to the store or try to ship it back.
- Have a problem with a return? Ask to speak to the store manager or contact the customer service department. If that doesn't work file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, your state Attorney General's office or local consumer protection agency.