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Get The Most Out Of Your Holiday Returns

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RALEIGH, N.C. — What would the holidays be without a trip to the mall after Christmas? Five on Your Side shows you how to get the most out of your holiday returns.

A lot of people claim they buy the perfect presents, but many do not, so they end up at the stores' return lines. But returns are not as easy as they used to be. Retail stores are not required to give you cash back when you make a return. They do not even have to let you exchange items.

Like a lot of large retailers, Target recently instituted tougher return policies.

"Basically, you have to have a receipt to do any returns or exchanges," said Jennifer Guild of Target Guest Services.

For those retailers who will take items back without a receipt, the best you can expect is the current price of the item. So if it has been marked down since it was purchased, you get the sale price, usually in the form of store credit, not cash.

To make the process easier, many retailers now give gift receipts.

"If it was a gift, you have to make sure you get a gift receipt, because if it's over $10, we can't return it," Guild said.

A gift receipt codes the price paid for an item, so the recipient will not know unless he or she returns it.

Although it seems obvious, how you take back a gift is also important.

"Make sure you return things in the original packaging. Make sure you have all the instructions, the original box it came in, and that will make it a lot easier for the retailers to take things back," Guild said.

It is also good to remember the three "Ps": be prepared, polite, and patient. It makes the whole process more pleasant for everyone. Otherwise, you can avoid return problems altogether by following Jean Ivey's advice.

"I'm getting money this year. That's the right size and the right color, and I don't have to return it," she said.

Here is another warning: a lot of electronics retailers charge a 15 percent re-stocking fee for things like big-screen TVs, camcorders and computers, so choose carefully before you pay.


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