SAN ANTONIO — With gift giving, it may be the thought that counts. But the reality is you likely got a present that is not a great fit for you.
The ideal situation is you get a present with a gift receipt and it is still in its original packaging with the tags. Here is the best time to make that return:
“Wait until the first week of January,” said Trae Bodge, a smart saving expert. “That, to me, is the sweet spot because most retailers are allowing holiday purchases to be returned within that week and you’re not going to run into a situation where they’re not accepting returns at that point, but it will be less crowded.”
Just make sure you make the return within the return window for the store. Each store policy may be different, so find out how much time you have.
If your item has unopened packaging and the tags still attached, but you do not have the receipt you can try to return it.
“Some stores will then only give you a refund for the sale price and that would obviously be a waste of money,” said Andrea Woroch, a smart shopping expert.
Yet, the store may only return the money to a gift card and not cash.
Shipping a gift back requires some specific steps or you may not get any money back.
“Make sure that you follow all the instructions,” said Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with Dealnews.com. “If they say to include a return slip in the box, make sure it’s in the box. Don’t leave anything out. When you do go to actually return it, if you’re sending it back via UPS or FedEx or something like that, try to make sure they give you some tracking so that you can keep track of where it’s at.”
Also, watch out for return shipping fees and restocking fees. Those costs might come out of your refund.
In some cases, there is just no way to make a return. Maybe there is no receipt. Or you do not know what store it was bought at. Possibly you do not want to hurt a loved one’s feelings by asking them to take it back. You are not out of luck.
“If you can’t return it to the store, your best bet is going to be trying to sell it on ebay or a local marketplace or something like that if you want to get cash back,” said Ramhold.
“I know that I’ve been the recipient of a gift that I haven’t wanted and sometimes it’s just not returnable,” said Robin Frankel of Forbes Advisor. “It doesn’t come with a receipt, so why not sell it and use the money to buy what you’d really like?”
If you received a gift card you will never use, sell it.
“There’s a lot of different websites out there where you can resell your gift cards to somebody," said Frankel. "So, if you have $45 left on a gift card and you just want to get rid of it and you don’t mind taking a loss of a couple bucks, you could maybe get $41 for it.”
Regifting could also be an option, but make sure to follow one rule:
“Make sure it looks brand new, of course, and save it for the next birthday or other occasion,” said Bodge.
Or host a post-holiday gift exchange.
“It might be a fun excuse to get your friends together and swap some gifts,” Bodge said. “Just want to be careful that you don’t bring a gift that one of those people gave you. But, you know, a gift that doesn’t suit you might suit someone else perfectly well.”
Use these steps to give yourself the gift of getting something you really want.
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