The holidays make you grateful for the family and friends who have supported you, especially when they get you presents that celebrate your new abode. You can use many of the gifts in the coming year. But you may have also gotten more than one coffee maker or toaster. And then there are the items that make you wonder what the giver was thinking, like the weird scarf or Elvis nick-knack. Fortunately, you can return stuff you don’t want if you follow these tips.
Find the gift receipt.
The more thoughtful of your friends will have included a gift receipt in what they’ve given you. This small piece of paper proves that the item came from a specific store but does not document the price. Many retailers require a receipt before they’ll process a return. More practical givers include this piece of paper in the envelope outside the gift. Others may have put the receipt inside the box itself.
If the receipt is missing, you can always ask the giver if they have one lying around or if they can scan a copy and email it to you. But exercise care in the request. Your closest bro probably won’t have a problem doing this but your fussy aunt may feel insulted that you’re returning her present.
Check the return policies.
Even if you don’t have a receipt, many stores relax their return rules around the holidays, so you may not need one. Check their return policies, which are typically displayed on their websites, and which differ from store to store. Many retailers won’t pay for return shipping but their brick-and-mortar branches will gladly process your return for free. Other stores may only accept exchanges. Some places may even charge a restocking fee on big-ticket items.
Do it right away.
Days tend to run more quickly after the holidays. And policies may differ depending on what you’re returning – electronics usually have shorter return periods than clothing. Some retailers may allow you all of January to return something bought in December even if their normal return policy is only a week or two. Still others may only allow two weeks, regardless of when the gift was bought.
Keep it in the box.
If there’s the slightest possibility that you’ll want to return a present, leave it in the box, unopened. Sellers are more amenable to returns in like-new condition because they can just put the item on the shelf for sale again. But if you insist on taking those boots out and spending the day tromping around Sequoia National Park with them, the retailer may not take them back because they’re no longer salable.
Exchange the gift card.
If there’s no chance that you’ll ever shop at the store for which you’ve gotten a gift card, it’s not likely that they’ll exchange your card for cash. But many programs are available online that will let you sell your gift cards to them at a discount over their face value. They include CardPool, GiftCardGranny, and CardCash. If you don’t know the value of the card, there’s usually a number or website listed on the back of it that will reveal its worth.
Give it to someone else.
Re-gift the unwanted present to someone else. You may even be able to use the original wrapping paper and ribbon, if you were careful to peek inside it in the first place. However, always keep the name of the original giver with the gift, so you don’t inadvertently give it back to them.