A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: Businesses expecting big gift returns this year — here are some tips for consumers


National Returns Day is January 2, and UPS is projecting 1.9 million returns this year — a 26% increase from last year.

According to a survey of 15,800 consumers by the online retail platform Oracle, 77% of consumers plan to return some of their gifts.

Most retailers have return policies in place to protect not only the consumer, but their business as well.

If you need to make a return after the holidays, BBB offers the following tips:

• Know and understand the seller’s return policy. Stores will often list their return policy on their website or on the back of receipts. If you have questions about the policy, call the store directly to ask about your specific situation. Brick and mortar stores may have different return policies than their online counterparts.

• Keep the receipt. Include a gift receipt with all gifts, so it’s easier for the recipient to return or exchange the gift if it’s not the right fit.

• Keep original packaging and ask about restocking fees. Some stores may require products be returned in original purchase condition, unused and/or unopened. In addition, some merchants charge a restocking or “open box” fee for returns of electronic products or large-ticket items. Make sure you’re aware of these policies.

• Bring identification. Because of return fraud, some retailers will ask for identification when making a return. If you are returning or exchanging a gift that you bought, make sure you bring the credit card used to make that purchase in case you don’t have the receipt.

• Read the product warranty information. In some cases, retail stores are not liable if the product turns up defective or damaged. They may require consumers to mail the product directly to the manufacturer in order to receive monetary refunds, credit, or product replacement.

• Read the fine print about rebates. Rebates are great for getting a good deal, but can come with strict requirements. Make sure you understand how the rebate will be issued. Some rebates need to be redeemed immediately and expire after a certain period of time. You may experience difficulty returning an item if the rebate requires you to open or send in part of the packaging, such as the UPC or box top. Keep a copy of the submitted rebate materials and note the date on which you sent it in. Mark your calendar for when you should receive the rebate.

• Don’t delay. In almost every case, stores require you to return within a specific time frame. If you wait too long, you may miss your chance.


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