Pennsylvania – It’s inevitable that after the holidays, the flood of holiday gift returns takes place. For the 2019 holiday season, “National Returns Day,” referring to the day when Americans return the most packages back to retailers, is predicted to be Thursday, January 2, 2020.

According to the National Retail Federation, the vast majority of consumers (80 percent) prefer to make holiday returns and exchanges in stores, and 74 percent indicate they are likely to purchase something else while returning or exchanging an unwanted gift.

“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 terms and conditions,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “In some cases, companies have specific policies and time frames in place pertaining to holiday returns and exchanges and unless an item is defective or misrepresented, a retailer isn’t necessarily obligated to process a return.”

If you plan to participate in “National Returns Day” or make a post-holiday gift return, follow these BBB tips:

Know 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 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.

Keep 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 return time limits. Some merchants consider the sale of holiday and clearance 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. Some retailers may have a set time period to return items which make gifts purchased far in advance impossible to return.

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.

Time your returns to avoid hassles. Return lines can be lengthy immediately following the holidays, especially on days like “National Returns Day,” so pick a time when the store is not likely to be as crowded. However, avoid waiting too long to make your return.

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

###

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including your BBB Serving Western Pennsylvania, which was founded in 1931 and serves the 28 counties of Western PA.