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Handling Returns After the Holidays

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The holiday season is over and you have a gift that you’d like to return. Maybe it’s just not what you want, you already have something similar, or it just doesn’t fit. What can you do? Here is some useful information plus tips on how to handle returns. 

Before heading to the store, check out their return policy. Visit their website or call the retailer to ask about returns and exchanges. Policies vary by location so be sure to check the policy with the store you plan to visit. Some retailers have a specified timeframe for returns and exchanges, such as 30 or 90 days. Others have specific criteria for returns. For example, a store may not accept items that are open, worn, or show signs of use. You may also check the receipt for policies and deadlines. If the item is defective, you may need to reach out to the manufacturer if it is outside the seller’s return window.

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Some purchases, such as online purchases, may require shipping the item(s) back to the seller for processing. It’s important to know who pays for shipping. If you have to pay, check to see if you can return the item to a local store to save on shipping fees.

Do you want to exchange a gift card? Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) advises consumers to use caution when using gift card exchange websites. While these sites allow you to sell or swap gift cards and shop for discounted cards, some of the exchange sites are scams or don’t deliver on their advertised promises. Check the reputation of the website before selling your card. Contact the card issuer to see what their policy is for returning unused gift cards. You may even be able to sell the value of the card to someone you know and skip the hassle of returning it.

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When you’re ready to make a return or exchange, have your documents ready. You may be required to show identification. Make sure to bring the item, its original packaging, the receipt, and your ID to the store. If you don’t have a receipt, the retailer may issue a store credit or put the value on a gift card to be used at their store.

If you experience an issue with the return, ask to speak with a manager or customer service for assistance. Explain the problem clearly and allow for a resolution to be offered. If you cannot resolve the problem, contact BCA to file a complaint. In some cases, you can also contact your state’s consumer protection office for assistance.

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About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.