So, it's the day after Christmas - you're done with presents, and now the dreaded "what to do" with things that don't fit, or that beard-trimmer that Grandma got for your twelve year-old.  Courtesy of The National Retail Federation and the Better Business Bureau, here's some good tips for stress-free returns.

  • Know the retailer's return policy before you buy. Most retailers have return policies displayed. Gift-givers should read and remember them. If policies are not clearly displayed, ask a sales associate or a manager to explain them to you. Most retailers also outline their return policy on their websites.
  • Make sure to provide the recipient with a gift receipt to save hassle after the holidays. Some retailers allow consumers to exchange merchandise without a receipt, but oftentimes will only provide merchandise credit for the lowest markdown price at which the item was sold.
  • Some retailers won't accept returns unless the item is in its original package. If you plan to take back a gift after it is unwrapped, resist the urge to open it or play with it. No one wants to buy someone else's merchandise.
  • Returns are a part of shopping, no matter where you buy. If the gift was purchased online, find out who pays for return shipping – you or the merchant? Some merchants will pick up the delivery charges for exchanges, but not for returns; others offer free return shipping on every return. Find out if returns or exchanges be made at an online retailer’s nearby physical store. Make sure you have the correct address if you need to mail returns back to the company. Some merchants have offsite service centers to handle returns that may be in a different location from where the merchandise is sent.
  • Be patient. Remember, the week after Christmas is one of the busiest weeks of the year for retailers. With people’s frustration high and tolerance low, be patient when returning merchandise.

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