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Get Gift Receipts, Read Written Store Policies To Ensure Easier Returns

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RALEIGH, N.C. — No matter how carefully presents are selected, a few always get returned. Five On Your Side found a few ways to make the process go smoothly.

Everyone has their own reason to return a gift, but these days, returns are not as easy as they used to be.

Many stores, such as Target, require receipts for refunds and exchanges. The return must be made within 90 days and merchandise must be unused and in the original packaging.

Wal-Mart is one of the few stores that will exchange merchandise or give store credit without a receipt; it does not give cash refunds.

"The best advice is to get gift receipts," said Tina Tutor of Wal-Mart.

Many retailers also offer a gift receipt that codes the price, so the recipient does not know how much was paid for it, unless the item is returned.

Five On Your Side warned that retailers are not required to give refunds or accept returns at all. Be sure to check the store's written policy before buying.

For those shopping online, returns can be a lot easier if they are taken back to the store. Gap.com and CircuitCity.com and many other sites let buyers do that.

"That saves having to pack it up and pay for the price of shipping it back," said Helen Popkin of

Consumer Reports


However, Victoria's Secret stores do not take back anything from VictoriasSecret.com and Barnes and Noble will only give store credit for online purchases.

Remember the three "P's" when returning items: Be prepared, polite and patient.

If a receipt is lost, many retailers can look up a purchase if a credit card was used to make the purchase.


Monica Laliberte

Five On Your Side Producer:

Lori Lair


Greg Clark

Copyright ©2002 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All rights reserved.


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