Pittsburgh, PA – If you receive a present this holiday season that you aren’t planning to keep, you’re not alone.

In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, one out of every three gift recipients typically return at least one item.

Before shipping unwanted gifts back or attempting to make a return in person, your Better Business Bureau is reminding consumers of the importance in understanding retailer policies and their terms and conditions first.

“Not every retailer has the same return policy and in some cases, companies have specific policies and time frames in place pertaining to holiday returns and exchanges,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “It’s a common misconception that a retailer is obligated to accept items for refund, exchange or store credit, but this is not the case unless an item is defective or misrepresented.”

If you are the recipient of a gift that you do not wish to keep, follow these BBB tips for post-holiday returns:

Recognize the seller’s policies. Read and understand what’s required for a return or exchange and if you have questions, contact the seller directly to ask about your specific situation. Most return policies will be listed on a company’s website or on the back of a gift receipt. Keep in mind that health regulations may prohibit the return of certain items, such as hats and intimate apparel.

Understand any warranties. In certain cases, the seller is not liable if a product turns up defective or damaged. They may require consumers to mail or return the product directly to the manufacturer in order to receive monetary refunds, credit or product replacement.

Don’t throw away the packaging. Most retailers require products be returned in original purchase condition, so hold on to the box or packaging. Keep any gift receipts that were provided as well, until you are certain you want to keep something.

Ask about returning sales and clearance items. Some merchants consider the sale of such items to be final or may only offer an exchange or store credit based on an item’s current selling price. Do not assume that you have the right to return or exchange an unwanted present for equal/lesser value or even at all.

Be aware of potential restocking and shipping fees. Some merchants charge a restocking fee, especially for electronics, items ordered online and large-ticket items. If an item was purchased online, but can be returned to a store instead, consider doing this to avoid paying return shipping fees. In some instances, it may not be worth making a return if associated fees exceed the value of the item.

Strategically time your returns. Return lines can be lengthy immediately following the holidays, but avoid waiting too long to make your return. For some retailers, returns are only permitted within a certain time frame, which may begin when the item was purchased and not when it was actually received as a gift.

Visit bbb.org for more helpful tips from your Better Business Bureau.

Like Connect FM on Facebook for more local news each day:

Related Stories: