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You may find that the gift you gave or received was not exactly a good fit, or maybe you received two of your favorite things.

This week, the stores and the Internet will be flooded with people looking to exchange or return items received as holiday gifts. Waiting in long lines or not finding the size you need can be exhausting. Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest and Pacific has a few tips to avoid the hassles of returns and exchanges:

Utilize receipts. During this time of year, BBB fields a number of complaints from customers frustrated with a return or exchange process because they didn’t have a receipt for their merchandise. Although many retailers may require you to bring a receipt to get your money back, you may be able to get store credit or exchange it for something of similar value. You may be asked to provide identification, or, if you have a profile with the store, they may be able to look up your purchase in their system. If you are giving a gift, be sure to ask for a gift receipt and provide it for the recipient.

Read the return/exchange policies thoroughly. Return policies for holiday and clearance items may be different than items sold at regular price. Keep in mind that every store has its own unique policy. Consumers should understand the retailer’s policies before expecting a refund. Don’t forget to do the same for merchandise that was purchased online.

Don’t delay. There is almost always a time frame during which shoppers can return or exchange purchases. Check your receipt carefully or look online — be thorough, clearance or sale items may have different return or exchange policies. Head back to the store and swap out your items as soon as possible.

Keep restocking fees in mind. Some retailers may charge a restocking fee for returns on electronic products or large-ticket items. If you plan on returning electronics, keep the original packaging.

Online stores may not refund shipping fees. If you received a gift that was purchased online, you may have to pay a separate shipping fee or may not be refunded for your original shipping payment. Keep in mind that sometimes merchandise can be returned in-store, but you may still not be refunded for the cost of shipping.


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