Watch Out For Stricter Post-Holiday Return Policies This Year

If part of your plans this week involve trading in some of your holiday gifts for sweet, sweet cash, you may need to plan ahead. According to the National Retail Federation, 17% of stores have tightened their return policies since the end of last year. What should you know before you try to bring back that magenta scarf or duplicate toy?

Consumer Reports released some advice for potential shoppers. Here’s their advice:

  • Get a receipt or gift receipt. Despite longer grace periods, retailers are becoming more insistent on a receipt in order to get a refund, and they’re more inclined to turn away customers without proof of purchase. Without a receipt, they may offer a store credit for the lowest price the item sold for.
  • Keep packaging intact. Stores are likely to refuse a return if the packaging materials are open or discarded. Even a missing instruction manual, cords and cables or warranty card can give retailers reason to deny the return.
  • Be wary online. Don’t just throw it in a box and mail it back. Online returns usually require a packing slip (typically included in any gift order), and a return authorization number. Call ahead to ensure that all requirements are being met.
  • Don’t break seals or cut out UPC codes. Items like computer software, video games, CDs and DVDs aren’t generally returnable for another title after the seal has been broken. If an item comes with a rebate offer, make sure it works before removing the UPC code to redeem the rebate.

Also, watch out for restocking fees at major retailers, mostly for big-ticket items.

  • 15% restocking fees for computers and fine jewelry
  • Best Buy: 15% restocking fees on laptops, camcorders, digital cameras and GPS navigators
  • 15% restocking fee on all items. Plus shoppers have only 15 days to return items.
  • Sears: 15% restocking fee applies to electronics products returned without the original box, used, and without all of the original packaging. The penalty also applies to some other products.
  • Home Depot: special-orders and some cancelled orders are subject to a 15 percent restocking fee.
  • Macys: 10% restocking fee on furniture
  • 15% restocking fee on all major purchases if the box is opened

More retailers tightening return policies [Consumer Reports Money]

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