5 On Your Side

Returning Unwanted Gifts Early Surest Way To Get Money Back

Posted December 27, 2005

— Flat screen televisions, MP3 music players, camcorders and digital cameras were the gifts to get this holiday season, but holiday cheer can disappear for consumers wanting to return their gifts this year.

  • On The Web:

    National Retail Federation

  • According to the National Retail Federation, nearly half of holiday gift-givers attach a receipt to their presents, making electronic gift returns easier -- but that could depend on where shoppers return those gifts.

    Depending on the retailer, products purchased anytime from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 can be returned anytime from 14 days to 30 days after Christmas.

    For example, Best Buy gives customers 14 days, or until Jan. 8 -- whichever comes later -- to return electronic items.

    "The main reason why some of those products -- laptops, digital cameras, especially -- have a shorter return policy period is because they tend to advance quicker than other products," said Keith Ferreira, a customer service manager at a local Best Buy. "So, what might be leading-edge technology at one point is no longer leading technology two weeks down the road."

    Other retailers have a similar return policy. Circuit City gives customers until Jan. 9 to return electronics. Sears will charge a 15 percent restocking fee on opened electronic returns and Wal-Mart, after three returns without a receipt in a 45-day period, will not accept returns.

    So, retailers say, returning gifts sooner rather than later could be consumers' best money-back guarantee.


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