Returning holiday gifts? Avoid these pitfalls

What you need to know before trying to return unwanted Christmas gifts

SAN ANTONIO - Returning a gift seems like it should be a simple task, but with some items, there can be strings attached.

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That's especially true for the most popular gifts of the season.

Jody Rohlena, Senior Editor of Shop Smart Magazine, says electronics are particularly tricky.

"There are restocking fees associated with electronics," Rohlena said. "They're popular gifts this time of year."

Rohlena says many retailers will charge you a 15%-20% of the purchase price, even if you haven't opened the box.

Consumer Reports recommends reviewing a retailer's return policy, before you head to the mall.

Consumer Reports also suggests you keep the following in mind:

  • Gift receipts will make your transaction much easier; some stores won't accept returns without one;
  • Not all purchases made online can be returned to a brick-and-mortar store;
  • Some gift cards cannot be returned, or won't amount to a cash refund;
  • Items purchased at a store outlet may not be eligible for returns;
  • If an item comes with a free or bonus gift, that gift also may have to be returned.

"You might not be able to return the 'something' you paid for, without the 'freebie' you didn't pay for," said Rohlena. "If you got a package deal, bring everything back to the store, just to be safe."

Retailers will continue to offer deep discounts this week as part of a flurry of post-holiday sales. Retailers are counting on those sales, since pre-Christmas spending was up only 0.7 percent over last year, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.

That was the worst year-over-year performance since 2008.

Analysts had estimated 3 to 4 percent growth in holiday retail sales over last year's sales.


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