5 on Your Side

5 on Your Side: Rules of holiday returns

Posted December 15, 2010 11:37 a.m. EST

We don't buy gifts with the idea the people we give them to will need to return them. But it happens, A LOT!

Last year, more than 219 billion dollars in products were returned. That's why it's important to do what you can on the FRONT END, to minimize problems.

The first thing you need to know -- retail stores do NOT have to accept returns -- or even exchanges. And those that do allow them, do NOT have to give you cash back. They can offer store credit or just an exchange. That's why BEFORE you buy something, make sure you check the return policy!

And watch for "restocking fees"-- especially with electronics. Some are as much as 25 percent of the cost of the item! Also-- if you return something through the mail, you may have to pay shipping costs.

Whatever the policy -- a good and simple way to make it all a little easier for the person who has to make a return - give gift receipts! Without one -- they may only get the current mark down price of the item, instead of the full price you paid!

And of course -- if you have to make a return -- it'll go a lot smoother if you remember the three P's: be prepared, polite and patient.

About this Blog:

In addition to the stories you see on TV, Monica is always looking for ways to help consumers find deals and avoid fraud. She'll blog about what you need to know here.